In Fujitsu there are usually a few job losses going on, even when times are good. Contracts are won and lost, jobs and skills change. The company isn’t as good as it should be in anticipating job losses and putting in place the necessary training and support to successfully redeploy people. And of course employees don’t always want to move into the jobs that are available.
UNITE campaigns to ensure that employees have the best possible redundancy terms, not only because this cushions the blow if we are made redundant, but also because it gives the company an incentive not to make us redundant. When members’ jobs are at risk, UNITE helps them at an individual and collective level.
There are no large scale redundancies going on in Fujitsu Services at the moment. To keep it in proportion, UNITE estimates that well under 100 people left the company in May, and the number of actual redundancies was a small fraction of that.
Permanent headcount in the UK and Ireland has been fairly steady so far this year (down from 12,034 to 11,977) with the number of non-permanent staff up from its low point in February of 1,282 to 1,357.
As the pay & pensions campaign gathers momentum, it is likely that some anti-union elements will resort to scaremongering about dire company finances or job losses to undermine people’s confidence. This is common with many employers, and was the experience during the Fujitsu Manchester disputes in 2003 and in 2006-7, both of which ended successfully and without any of the scare stories coming true. If you hear rumours or scaremongering, please take them with a pinch of salt. Why not ask for some published facts to back up the story? Or check with your reps?
It is possible there will be some redundancies in the next few months, though it’s worth saying that the company has not said anything about this to UNITE or the UKCF. We will have around 700 employees from the former Fujitsu Siemens Consulting (now Fujitsu Technology Solutions) TUPE transferring into Fujitsu Services in August. Many companies try to cut jobs following a takeover, so it would not be surprising if Fujitsu tried to do this – irrespective of the economic situation or our pay and pensions campaign. It’s also possible that the company might continue its attempts to jack up profits at our expense by cutting jobs and trying to get those that remain to take on even more work. This would be an absolute scandal when many of us are already under great pressure of work and often doing unpaid overtime.
In several parts of the organisation, employees have reported recently being approached by managers about a “Compromise Agreement” (CA). A Compromise Agreement is a legal agreement that in Fujitsu typically involves you agreeing to leave the company, not take them to court and keep the details of the agreement secret, in exchange for the company giving you a sum of money.
At their best, CAs can be a way of resolving a problem to the satisfaction of an employee and the company. At their worst, they can be an under-the-table way for the company to get rid of someone on the cheap and without due process. A few top tips:
- You should always seek advice from a rep if approached about a CA. It is not for reps to advise you whether or not to accept an offer, but they can help you understand your options before taking a decision. If you are told you are not allowed to speak to your rep, this is a lie. In any case, advice can be given in confidence.
- Keep calm. Never agree to things on the spot or get rushed or bullied into a snap decision. Don’t join the ranks of the ex-employees who did this and regretted it.
- Check roughly what your standard redundancy payment would be using the UNITE online “Redundancy Calculator”.
- Remember that you can’t directly compare the value of a CA with a redundancy payment, as there are many factors to take into account (e.g. pay in lieu of notice, pay in lieu of benefits, pension contributions, state benefits, mortgage or loan insurance, timing).
- Remember that this is a negotiation, even if you are told it isn’t.
- Try to avoid the company putting financial calculations in writing, as this can prejudice your tax position.