Employees in scope of the Manchester agreements have received two communications from the company lately – both have caused a degree of confusion.
- You should have received a letter from HRdirect, by post to your home address, closely based on the emailed Company Announcement on 12th September.
- Larry Upton also sent you a Company Announcement on 1st October entitled “Clarification of queries on redundancy terms”.
The paper letter includes two copies, and you are asked to sign and return one copy. Many of you have asked what this means and why it is necessary. Though the agreements apply regardless of whether individuals return the letter, it is good practice for the company to do this when changes are made to terms and conditions. It is in your interests to sign and return it, to ensure that your rights are clearly recorded by HR. Unfortunately, HRdirect included neither a return address nor a return envelope. It should be returned to HRdirect at BRA01. We strongly recommend you keep your copy of the letter in a safe place.
Announcement on Redundancy Terms
By contrast, the Company Announcement on redundancy terms seems to be a bit of mischief-making wrapped around some good news.
The good news is that the announcement says that for all Fujitsu Services employees (i.e. not just Manchester):
the SEA applies in full where one or more of the following criteria are met:
a) Where the individual is entitled to the SEA through a TUPE arrangement or a specific clause in their contract;
b) Where the individual joined ICL prior to the 1st January 2000 and is not covered by redundancy terms under a TUPE transfer or a specific entitlement in their contract;
c) Where the individual joined ICL through a TUPE transfer, and harmonised their employment terms to those offered by ICL before the 1st January 2000, and is not covered by specific redundancy entitlements in their contract.
The “SEA” refers to the “Security of Employment Agreement”, which was included as Annex 4 to the new Manchester agreements.
As we forecast when members from Manchester appealed for support from employees across the company during the dispute, the outcome has benefited employees nationally.
So what’s the catch?
Firstly, the company only sent the announcement to employees in the scope of the Manchester recognition agreement. It would only benefit a handful of people in Manchester (specifically, some of those excluded from the bargaining unit). The thousands of people who should benefit from the notice weren’t sent it!
The notice (and the timing of it being sent out just before letters arrived on doormats) appears designed to promote exclusion requests. Giving the notice to Manchester staff who are excluded and not to everyone in the country breaches the company’s promise of neutrality.
Secondly, the notice is misleading. It is trying to give people the (wrong) impression that their redundancy rights are not affected by whether they are in the bargaining unit. Let’s look at some of the differences again:
|In the bargaining unit||Outside the bargaining unit|
|SEA entitlement is clearly defined as a contractual right.||Employees have rely on evidence such as the company notice to prove their contractual right. The company has a history of claiming such notices are “policies” they can change, not contractual rights.|
|People NOT on the SEA are entitled to (at least) the Minimum Redundancy Provisions and can get Additional Termination Payments as well.||People NOT on the SEA have to rely on individual contractual entitlements and the old Minimum Redundancy Payment scheme we won in 2003.|
|Covered by our new Annex 1 agreement, which protects jobs and helps redeployment.||Not covered.|
The announcement is sloppy. It talks about the SEA applying to “all” Fujitsu Services employees who meet the criteria. Our colleagues in South Africa, Egypt, the USA or Germany will surely be fascinated by this. It talks about people “excluding themselves from the Manchester agreement” when there is no facility to do so – only to request exclusion from certain aspects of it.
It smacks of desperation.
Throughout the dispute HR claimed they were under pressure from significant numbers of employees desperate to get out of the bargaining unit. They said the “exclusion” process wasn’t about them pursuing a union-busting strategy as members feared, but about respecting individual choice. It’s almost a month since the agreements came into effect and less than 20 people (out of 1073) have requested exclusion, despite the fact that the salary threshold has been scrapped – so this includes HR and senior management.
UNITE in Manchester will continue to focus on making the new agreements work effectively for employees and the company.
Manchester Reps are also discussing with our officers, organisers and reps across the country to see how members across the country can take advantage of the announcement – and extend more of the benefits of the Manchester agreements nationally.
The company has been very slow in getting the letters out to individuals confirming the pay rises from 1st October that arose from the deal. However, we understand that the changes have been uploaded onto the system and should be paid in the October pay packet. Nearly all individuals in the scope of the agreements should receive letters with one or more of the following:
- £150 pay rise for people earning below £40,529 (pro-rata for part-timers)
- Disturbance allowance consolidated into basic pay for people who receive one
- Increase in pension accrual entitlement from 1/75th to 1/60th for the small number affected
If you have any queries when you receive your letter, please contact your rep promptly. Delays in raising issues can make them much harder to resolve.