Consultative Ballot – 6 days to go!
Unless the situation changes, consultative ballot papers will be posted to the home addresses of all UK UNITE members in Fujitsu Services on Monday 13th July. Encouragingly, the PCS union has now announced its intention to hold an indicative ballot of its members in Fujitsu Services.
Your reps are urging every member to vote YES + YES and return your vote straight away when you receive your ballot papers.
Some questions and answers:
1) What will the ballot questions be?
The questions will be the same as the ones which will be legally required if we go ahead to a statutory ballot for industrial action: “Are you prepared to take part in strike action?” and “Are you prepared to take part in industrial action short of strike?”
2) Why is it important I vote YES + YES?
So far, the company has not responded to the strength of the arguments on pay and pensions, so we need to show that we are prepared to use the argument of our strength if necessary. Given the size of the issues we face (e.g. ICL DB members face the equivalent of a pay cut of around 20%), your reps don’t believe that the threat of action short of strike alone would be enough to win. Every YES + YES vote will send a strong message to the company that employees feel Enough Is Enough and that we are determined to stand up for our pay and pensions. The higher the vote the more likely the company is to back off.
3) I’m not in the ICL DB pension plan, does this affect me?
Yes. Firstly, we are campaigning on pay as well as pensions. Secondly, we are campaigning for improvements in pensions for those with worse provision. Thirdly, the company has revealed it has a strategy to exit other DB pension schemes. Fourthly, if the company gets away with cutting 20% off the package of 4000 employees by dismissing and re-employing them, who will be safe?
4) What are we trying to achieve?
Members have agreed the following goals:
1. A fairer pay system
2. More money for employees
3. Defend the ICL DB pension scheme
4. Improve pension provision for those with something worse
5) There’s no union recognition where I work, does this affect me?
Yes. Members right across the UK are affected by the pay and pensions issues. Most UNITE members are in areas not yet covered by union recognition. The ballot, campaign and any action would cover the whole country. Any company offer would be voted on by members across the whole country.
6) How is a “consultative” ballot different?
Our consultative ballot will be conducted in a similar way to a real (statutory) industrial action ballot which has to comply with the anti-union laws. Ballot papers will be sent to members’ home addresses and will show the same questions as a statutory ballot. There are some differences though:
· UNITE will not call industrial action based on the “consultative ballot”, the union would hold a full statutory ballot first.
· Both the consultative ballot and any subsequent full statutory ballot will be secret. Nobody will know in which way an individual has voted. However the Consultative ballot will be counted by UNITE, a full Statutory ballot would be counted externally.
· The consultative ballot has the advantage over a full statutory ballot of providing a breakdown of support for action by locations, unlike a statutory ballot where results are only available nationally.
· The wording on the consultative ballot paper will differ slightly from any subsequent statutory ballot as the latter requires certain legal wording.
· For the consultative ballot the union is freed from the slow and complex process of notifying the company about various aspects of the ballot. Any subsequent statutory ballot will have to adhere to industrial action legislation. The consultative ballot can concentrate on gauging the level of support for industrial action.
7) If this isn’t a statutory ballot, why do I need to vote now?
Every YES + YES vote increases the pressure on the company to make an offer acceptable to you, making it less likely that members will have to go ahead with industrial action.
8) If there’s a YES + YES vote, what will happen?
UNITE will announce the result and use it to put pressure on the company to reach a settlement acceptable to members. If the consultative ballot shows support for action but the company still doesn’t come to its senses, UNITE could then progress to a statutory ballot.