As predicted by UNITE, PCS and the company’s UK Consultative Forum (UKCF), the company approach to redundancy “consultation” has generated chaos:
- Having six parallel forums is wasting time, hindering communication and causing division.
- The company decision makers don’t attend the forum meetings, and the people they send along vary widely in competence and knowledge, leading to inconsistent, incomplete and sometime inaccurate answers. Behind the scenes the “Project Cherry” Steering Group (we kid you not!) is kept safely away from the influence of employee reps.
- Different bits of information are given to different forums.
- Untrained and inexperienced reps are often struggling, despite their best efforts, to keep focussed on avoiding redundancies, reducing the numbers, and mitigating the consequences. A few even seem to feel they are there to help the company implement the job cuts.
- Some company reps keep “forgetting” that UNITE is involved in the consultation, and failing to provide information or missing UNITE off the lists of reps. This all adds to the evidence that the consultation is not being properly conducted, which could lead to legal action later.
UNITE and PCS are offering training to all the employee reps involved in the redundancy consultation process, and continue to try to participate constructively, despite the obstacles created by the company’s approach. However, it is clear that we cannot rely on the company behaving sensibly, so the campaign remains vital.
Meanwhile the company’s online facility for generating “quotes” for redundancy is proving pretty unreliable:
- Quotes generated between the evening of Friday 18th and the morning of Monday 21st September were wrong.
- The company “forgot” to include the increased payments due for many employees in the Manchester bargaining unit under the “Annex 1” agreement. They then told UNITE this had been fixed, but when employees tried it again it was apparent that big parts of the extra payments were still missing.
- PCS tell us that the calculations for ex-civil-servants are wrong.
- There are many examples of employees finding their “Severance Scheme” (redundancy terms) incorrectly recorded, resulting in the wrong formula being used.
- Some employees report their quotes inexplicably changing when they look again.
While UNITE and other employee reps have many concerns about the VR programme, the union is encouraging everyone (whether currently at risk or not) to look at the information provided, keep a copy and check it carefully. In particular, if the page lists the wrong “Severance Scheme” (i.e. redundancy terms), you should contact HRdirect to get this corrected without delay. If you are a union member you can contact one of your reps for help in checking your quote.
You should compare the quote you get from the company system with that from the UNITE Redundancy Calculator:
The UNITE calculator also provides an explanation of how the figures are worked out. It has now been updated to use the statutory cap on weekly pay that will apply from 1st October, rather than the current one.
If you believe the company quote is wrong, please let your UNITE reps know as well as seeking clarification or correction from HR.
Your reps are aware of some issues which could affect quotes:
1) For employees on 12 months notice, the UNITE calculator assumes you work six months and get six months Pay In Lieu Of Notice (PILON), in line with the past practice in ICL and Fujitsu. It isn’t yet clear whether the company will do so this time, but the company quotes appears to include a full year’s PILON.
2) The UNITE calculator does not include Pay In Lieu Of Benefits (PILOB). Including this would require you to input a lot more information and make it less usable.
3) For colleagues not in the Manchester bargaining unit and on poor severance schemes, the company Q&A says that they will apply some (but not all) of the improvements included in Annex 1. This is not yet reflected in the UNITE calculator and UNITE is not yet clear whether or how it is reflected in the company quotes.
4) We are awaiting information to correct a problem on the UNITE calculator for ex civil-servants.
The company has produced its explanations of some of the different severance schemes, which UNITE has published on CafeVIK. Please note that most of the files in this are encrypted – please read the README file for an explanation and the password.
Gains from 2007 Manchester Dispute Ripple Nationally
When UNITE members in Manchester took industrial action in 2006-7 the company hoped to isolate them, but members travelled the length and breadth of the country campaigning and raising support. One of the main gains of the dispute was the “Annex 1” agreement which covers redeployment and redundancy for people in the Manchester bargaining unit. Since it was signed, this has proved remarkably successful at protecting members who wanted to remain in the company. There have also been small examples of this “good practice” spreading elsewhere in the company.
- The clarification on who is covered by the Security of Employment Agreement (SEA) made it from Annex 1 to section 9 of the UKCF minutes from December 2007, benefiting many people across the UK. However, it’s still not quite as good as the Annex 1 version, as it isn’t explicit that this is contractually enforceable.
- Annex 1 introduced “Minimum Redundancy Provisions” (MRP) and “Additional Termination Payments” to improve redundancy pay for employees with less favourable terms. Now the company answer to Q52 in its Q&A document (see below) says “Where a contract of employment is silent, or is based on statutory terms, the company will enhance the statutory payment by using actual weekly pay as the multiplier, rather than the statutory capped £380 per week. In addition, any redundancy payment (excluding PILON) that is less than 4 weeks pay will be enhanced to this level”. This is an important step in the right direction, and will benefit some people considerably, particularly those on high salaries. But it’s still not as good as Annex 1, which also provides for the £380 cap to be used as a minimum, benefiting the lower paid. It adds an extra 2 weeks pay to the calculation too. Most importantly, the company wording would penalise those on poor terms other than statutory – under Annex 1 these people get the improved payments too.
As well as showing the benefits of union organisation, these examples show that the old adage “an injury to one is an injury to all, a victory for one is a victory for all” holds true in Fujitsu today.
The company should be treating everyone throughout the UK at least as well as set out in Annex 1. This would mean better support for redeployment, a more meaningful VR programme if jobs are lost etc.
Sometimes it can be hard to see the woods for the trees. UNITE will continue to try to pick out the most important developments from the redundancy process to keep members well informed. There are now a number of useful places to get information (as well as the union web sites, of course):
- Company “Consultation Process” CafeVIK portal. The “Questions and Answers” section includes a lot of useful points.
- The “Consultation Info” CafeVIK Collaboration site. Despite the heading saying this is the employee reps’ site, it has been set up by HR and they are responsible for a lot of the content. Nonetheless, there are sections for each forum and reps can upload material. It’s a bit confusing thanks to the lack of a consistent approach.
- For people in the Pool 1 (Engineering), there is an “extranet” web site that employees can access from outside Fujitsu, as many don’t have access to CafeVIK. This requires a username and password which the company say has been sent out.
Tips for Union Members At Risk
People have been asking where to find information. Sources include:
- The company’s “Consultation Process” CafeVIK portal (especially their Q&A)
- The “Consultation Information” CafeVIK Collaboration Site which contains a fairly random mix of material posted by the company and employee reps
- Company “Internal Opportunities” web site (now includes both vacancies and assignments)
- “Amicus The Union” CafeVIK Community (includes copies of the Manchester Agreements, SEA, UNITE Redundancy Calculator etc)
- Our OurUnion web site (includes news page with archive of many union newsletters)
Tips for redeployment:
- If you are seeking redeployment and experience any barriers, raise it through your management chain or HR immediately and keep a note of this. For example, if you don’t get responses to job enquiries, are refused relevant training, are turned down for a job without high quality feedback, or are told you can’t have a job for reasons you don’t accept. If you don’t raise such issues straight away, it can be hard to get problems corrected later. If you don’t get the issue resolved promptly by your management chain, speak to your rep for guidance. You may feel you’re being a bit pushy, but think how you would feel in a few months if you didn’t have a job and were wondering what would have happened if you’d just been a bit more assertive.
- Don’t forget that some people communicate well by email, others phone etc. If you don’t get a quick response one way, try others.
- Ask for training in writing a good CV, applying for jobs, doing interviews. These are skills in themselves and for many of us we have not needed these skills for many years. A good CV may not get you a job but a bad one will prevent you getting an interview.
- Make sure your online CV, Skills Database entry and CafeVIK Connect profile are all up to date. When filling in the Skills Database, don’t be too modest. You wouldn’t want to lose out on a job to someone else with less skills but a bigger head.
- Ask your manager for the list of “scarce skills” for your unit (and other relevant ones) and what training is available.
- Do some work on identifying your “transferrable” skills. We often focus on the more obvious skills, such as particular tools, technologies or processes that we use. What about the skills you’ve acquired in problem solving, communication or your ability to learn quickly? These are often harder to acquire than this or that new technology. Thinking about your skills in this way can help you consider a wider range of options.
- Don’t take the wording in job adverts too seriously. Often job adverts “pump up” the job to make it sound more important than it really is. There have been cases where people have thought they couldn’t apply for a job because it was too senior, only to find it was at the same or a lower level than they are already on. They may ask for skills and experience you don’t have – are they really essential? They may specify an inconvenient location – why can’t that be changed?
- Use your networks. Though all jobs should be advertised for everyone to apply, Fujitsu doesn’t always live up to this standard. Talk to colleagues, ex-colleagues, friends and acquaintances around the organisation to find out about what work or opportunities might be coming up. If you’re going for a job, try to find out the reality about it by talking to people already doing it before any interview.
- Don’t be afraid of looking at jobs that require training, and asking for the training you need. Ultimately it is cheaper for the company to spend £5K retraining someone than £20K making someone redundant and then another £5K recruiting someone externally.
- Don’t just look at jobs in your current role. Via the “Invest In Yourself” CafeVIK portal you can access the Career Mapping System which suggests other roles you might consider. It’s worth reading the relevant Professional Community role profile documents too.
- If the new job is on a different Professional Community role than your current one, make sure you check the relevant pay and benefit scales, so you can make an informed decision. The company keeps these secret, but UNITE members can get a paper copy (on a confidential basis) from their rep. You wouldn’t want to find out come pay review time that you had been demoted without your knowledge and wouldn’t get a pay rise for years to come.
- If you’re being redeployed, make sure it’s done properly. You may feel under pressure to go with the flow to avoid being at risk, but it’s much harder to sort out problems later. Make sure you know what “trial period” you are entitled to in your new job – this is likely to be either 4 weeks, 3 months or 6 months depending whether or not you are covered by Annex 1 or the SEA. Staff in the Manchester bargaining unit are entitled to a written job offer describing the new role, its terms and conditions, the trial period and any other relevant elements. This standard should apply wherever you are.
- UNITE has a deal with an Independent Financial Advisor (IFA), see http://www.unitewithus.org.uk/money/financialplanning.htm
- You can find other IFAs via www.unbiased.co.uk
- The company says you can get financial advice via their Employee Assistance Programme, which can be accessed via www.ppconline.info .
Fujitsu Sponsors Parliamentary Rugby Teams
Staff whose jobs are at risk will no doubt be delighted to hear that the company scraped together the cash to sponsor the “Commons & Lords Rugby Union Football Club” for the 2009/10 season. Did our parliamentarians needed some extra help paying for their kit now that expenses are under more scrutiny?
Many employees have the Security of Employment Agreement (SEA) as a contractual right. The SEA commits the company to suspend advertising as a cost-saving measure to avoid redundancies, except by joint agreement. This is a spectacular employee-relations own goal.
Fujitsu may try to curry-favour with politicians, to offset the bad press their treatment of employees is getting. But the reality is that it makes it easier for employees to tackle MPs on the subject. How can they claim Fujitsu’s behaviour is none of their business when the company flaunts its public sector role in this way?