Unite Members Opt To Strike At Fujitsu Crewe Plant

Fujitsu staff have voted to walk out of strike because of the alleged unfair treatment of a trade unionist

Computer staff are joining the wave of industrial unrest hitting the UK on 30 June after members of the Unite union at Fujitsu’s site in Crewe voted to walk out on strike.

However unlike other strikes over pensions, the Unite members at Fujitsu are protesting at the alleged treatment of a colleague, who is also a trade union activist.

Alan Jenney is described by Unite as a 39-year-old IT professional who has worked for Fujitsu for 17 years since leaving full-time education.

Strike Decision

According to the union Jenney, who lives in Crewe, has been singled out and put at risk of redundancy, but unlike his other colleagues, Jenney is not being offered the chance to redeploy elsewhere.

Unite also claims that the company’s approach to this case has seriously breached company processes and agreements.

“This ballot result reflects that our members are prepared to vote ‘yes’ to back strike action against the company’s victimisation of Unite rep and co-worker Alan Jenney, who is being unfairly singled out,” said Kevin O’Gallagher, Unite national officer for IT and communications. “And as you would expect, Unite is 100 percent behind its members at Fujitsu.”

”The company has denied any obligation to honour the agreement made with Unite – the recognised union at Fujitsu,” he added. “It is disappointing that such a major company is behaving this way towards its own employee who simply wants to be treated fairly and not singled out – after 17 years of service – for redundancy, without making any genuine effort to find him alternative employment. Going on strike is a last resort, but members in Crewe are behind the campaign.”

According to the union, the majority of Unite members voted in favour of industrial action, including one day of strike action on Thursday (30 June), a continued work-to-rule and a policy of non co-operation to start on Thursday.

The vote in favour of a strike was by 52 percent to 48 percent of the votes cast, and the vote in favour of industrial action, short of strike action, was by a 72 percent to 28 percent margin.

According to Unite, the Crewe site employs about 130 staff, and makes computer programmes, installs hardware and operates a help desk.

“We are aware of the Union’s intention to strike following a ballot by members but we are not able to comment on any specific cases regarding an individual member of our staff,” a Fujitsu UK spokesperson told eWEEK Europe UK.

Previous Action

It is worth noting that this is not the first time that industrial action has been called at Fujitsu. In January 2010, workers at the company went on strike over pay freezes, job cuts and the closure of a pension scheme.

This followed warnings from the Unite union back in August 2009 that a strike was potentially possible because of the pension changes.

The Union has also previously criticised Fujitsu UK for announcing plans to cut around 1,200 jobs in its services arm, claiming that the moves were unnecessary given the company’s relatively healthy profits.

Meanwhile earlier this month it emerged that some HP workers, belonging to the Public and Commercial Services (PCS) union, are considering strike action over plans to offshore their jobs.

Apparently up to 200 jobs at HP are thought to be at risk at sites based in Newcastle, Lytham St Annes in Lancashire and Sheffield.