Fujitsu’s plans to axe 1,800 jobs – about 18 per cent of its UK workforce – has been branded ‘a hammer blow’ to the British economy by Unite.
Unite national officer for IT, Ian Tonks, said: “This is a hammer blow for these hardworking employees who have given their all to make the UK subsidiary highly profitable.
“It is not good news for the UK economy as the company says that it intends to offshore many of these jobs, with increased automation also responsible for job losses.
“Fujtsu’s main UK subsidiary made £85.6m profit last year and we see no reason for these job losses.
“Unite will be doing its utmost to fight for these jobs, as well as giving our members maximum support at this very worrying time.”
Workers will be affected at the IT giant’s major sites which include Belfast Bracknell, Crewe, Londonderry/Derry, Manchester, Stevenage, Wakefield and Warrington.
The company, for its part, says it is simply planning a restructure based on what it described as ‘customer needs’.
In a statement it said: “Fujitsu is planning a transformation program that will enable it to better support customers in the era of digital transformation.
“As part of the programme, Fujitsu plans to streamline operations in order to remain competitive in the market.
“Proposed measures include changes which would result in a reduction of up to 1,800 jobs in the UK. All affected employees will be offered guidance and support and Fujitsu is establishing a consultation process with elected employee representatives.”
The announcement comes as Fujitsu staff in Manchester are voting in an industrial action ballot over pay, pensions and job security.
Unite claims that the company has been cutting pay rates for years, despite healthy profits and it is failing to tackle a significant gender pay gap.
The strike ballot result is expected on Wednesday 19 October.
The company has also given notice to terminate its UK works council – Fujitsu Voice – from January 2017, which, the union says, will reduce workers’ redundancy and consultation rights.
Unite is fighting this, with the aim of securing union recognition for Fujitsu’s 10,000 UK workers.
Ian Tonks added: “Fujitsu claims to be a responsible business – it needs to start acting like one. Its UK staff make the company excellent profits.
“They deserve to be treated better than ‘unit costs’ that need to be minimised. Fujitsu staff are saying they have had enough of job and income insecurity and of being denied a real voice in their working lives.
“They can rely on the backing of Unite in challenging Fujitsu’s actions.”