Hundreds of workers at IT giant Fujitsu are staging strike action across the UK to defend their jobs, pay and pensions, and to gain union recognition.
Unite’s 1,200 members started the solidly supported 24-hour stoppage at just past midnight today (February 28).
The strike highlights Fujitsu’s plans to discard vital skills and experience. Fujitsu plans to offshore jobs to low-cost countries potentially jeopardising service to existing customers, who rely on the skills of UK staff.
According to Unite, workers believe that the company terminated their UK works council to smooth the way for 1,800 UK job losses. This has left unions as the only effective voice of the workforce, but Fujitsu only negotiates with Unite for a minority of members, who are pushing to extend union recognition beyond the Manchester site.
Fujitsu is highly profitable in the UK making £85.6m profit in the last financial year. Unite argues that an ill-considered move offshore jeopardises the viability of the existing business.
“Trying to replace highly skilled workers with offshore staff who have yet to be recruited is extremely risky,” said Unite national officer Ian Tonks. “Similar projects have not been successful for Fujitsu’s competitors and early indications are that Fujitsu and its customers, which include major companies and government departments, will suffer.
“Meaningful plans for the business in the UK have yet to be shared with employees. The risks of offshoring to customers could be multiplied by the company rushing through job cuts with minimal effort at redeployment and retraining, leading to staff opposition rather than the cooperation needed to make it a success.
“Fujitsu is a highly profitable and successful company – its main UK subsidiary having made a healthy profit last year and credit must go to the skilled and dedicated UK workforce.
“Our members have demonstrated the seriousness of their intent and more industrial action is on the cards if the company continues to treat them with disdain.”
Unite assistant general secretary Tony Burke (pictured above centre) was especially dismayed by the company’s decision to unilaterally to shut its consultation and information forum, and replace it with a similar body in an attempt to remove Unite members from sitting on the committee.
“It flies in the face of the government and others talking about the need for greater worker representation,” he said. “Here you have a company that’s going into reverse — taking away something we already had that really worked.”
Other elements of the dispute include dramatic retrospective cuts to pensions for over-60s, pay inequality including a 16 per cent gender pay gap, and Fujitsu’s refusal to become an accredited Living Wage employer.
The strike action will have a significant impact on service delivery for some customers and project time scales with pickets outside Fujitsu’s major sites including Basingstoke, Belfast, Birmingham, Bracknell, Crewe, London, Manchester, Stevenage, Wakefield and Warrington.