Fujitsu put 672 staff at risk of redundancy on 20th June and started a consultation period which will last at least 90 days. Since then, UNITE has been working with the employees affected, other employee reps and the company to try to avoid or minimise the number of redundancies.
A good number of staff have now been redeployed, so the figure at risk now stands at 548.
The “Transition Assistance Notice” (TAN) has now been signed, which means that Fujitsu will continue providing support to the 8 live NHS trusts until 28th November. This will mean work for around 150-250 staff. Some of these will be brought out of scope of redundancy, the remainder having their consultation periods extended to reflect the extra work they are doing.
It is a matter of great frustration that Fujitsu is choosing not to communicate about the situation to the wider workforce. All the documents relating to the consultation and redeployment are held on a web site inaccessible to most Fujitsu staff. This makes redeployment more difficult and leaves staff on the account feeling more isolated.
As well as working hard inside Fujitsu to protect staff, UNITE has also been active outside. Press releases and briefings to MPs are helping put pressure on the government and NHS to end the current uncertainty about future suppliers. If all the staff can’t be redeployed within Fujitsu, UNITE believes they should transfer to other suppliers or to the NHS rather than being made redundant.
UNITE National Officer Peter Skyte also wrote on our behalf to Gordon Hextall, the Chief Operating Officer of NHS Connecting for Health, to press our case. As a result of this Peter Skyte and Ian Allinson (UNITE senior rep, Fujitsu Manchester) will be meeting Gordon Hextall and Robin O’Connor (Group Commercial Director) this week.
In a letter to UNITE, Gordon Hextall said “it is the intention to transfer the currently live services to BT, and that BT recognise for some of the people currently employed by Fujitsu, TUPE is expected to apply”. BT are now actively engaged in “due diligence” and it seems possible that consultation with staff over a potential TUPE could begin fairly soon.
We’ve already had quite a few responses to our suggestion of lobbying MPs and/or government over the issue, and we will be able to go forward with this if necessary.
With those at risk being spread across the country, the benefits of our “Annex 1” agreement in Manchester are being clearly demonstrated. For example, Manchester staff:
- Have a named individual responsible for managing the redeployment process, a huge advantage when the management structure is collapsing as people are redeployed
- Have a right to a clear offer before deciding on any new job
- Have a right to longer trial periods in new jobs if they are redeployed
- Have longer to look for another job, thanks to the “Redeployment Warning Period”
- Have support from Union Learning Reps to help with retraining
- Will in many cases get higher payments if they are made redundant
UNITE is seeking to get these advantages extended nationally, but this will ultimately depend on more people on other sites joining the union and getting involved.
Fujitsu has already agreed to pay all employees made redundant at least four weeks’ actual pay, regardless of length of service, reflecting one positive aspect of Annex 1.
Whether they are in Manchester or on other sites, UNITE members have access to individual support from their union, crucial in times like these.
One of the challenges is to ensure that the support given to members isn’t diluted by large numbers of people joining at the last minute and demanding individual attention. At a recent national meeting of UNITE reps in Fujitsu, it was agreed that while everyone will benefit from the work UNITE is doing at a collective level, reps will only give individual support (in relation to these redundancies) to members who join by “day 59” of the consultation, which is 18th August 2008. If you have colleagues affected by these redundancies, please encourage them to join as quickly as possible, so that they can get maximum benefit from their membership.
You can help your colleagues whose jobs are at risk by letting your reps know:
- If there is overtime (paid or unpaid) being worked in your area – under our “Annex 1” agreement the company has committed to stop or reduce overtime “except when it is jointly agreed otherwise (for example – that they are not practicable, there are overriding legal obligations or would not help address the problem)”.
- If your team or department is under-staffed. Let’s get some recruitment authorised and people redeployed.
Why should you be over-worked while colleagues have their jobs at risk?