4 days to go until the industrial action ballot papers are posted out. When you receive your ballot paper, please return your vote straight away. This is particularly important because of the likelihood of further postal strikes. UNITE is urging members to vote YES+YES to secure an acceptable outcome on Jobs, Pay & Pensions.
PCS has now formally notified Fujitsu that it is balloting all its UK members in Fujitsu too. Their ballot opens a couple of days after ours, but closes on the same date.
UNITE has provided a large supply of stickers carrying the slogans “Enough Is Enough” and “UNITE for Jobs, Pay & Pensions”. They fit very nicely on the back of your ID pass. The stickers are now being distributed around the country, so please see your local UNITE rep or contact (see footer) to get hold of some.
There’s also a new national leaflet (full colour) going out at sites across the country. Please speak to your local rep/contact to check it’s going out where you are (you could even offer to help). The sooner this goes out, the stronger our Jobs, Pay & Pensions campaign will be.
Historically, Fujitsu staff have not been well paid, and in recent years our pay rises have lagged far behind price inflation, let alone average earnings.
Years ago, the company justified lower pay by pointing to the other benefits, terms and conditions. But these have also been eroded. Fujitsu has been trying to drive down everything from overtime rates to redundancy payments, pushing up canteen prices and making travelling on company business ever more expensive for us.
Many employees who are performing well have gone years without a pay rise. Many complain that they didn’t even get a pay rise on promotion!
In 2003 the company switched from using pay scales based on external market rates, to generally using “internal medians” where your pay is compared against what a typical UK Fujitsu employee in your role got the previous year. This made it harder for staff to know how badly paid they were. The company also made the new scales secret, a situation only partially overcome by union legal action using the Data Protection Act and the right to information for collective bargaining.
The information obtained by the union revealed that typical pay rates for many jobs had barely risen, while some had actually gone down! This was concealed from employees by the complex workings of Individual Performance Related Pay.
Each year, even in boom years, we’ve had sob stories from the company about how tough conditions are. “Profits are up – tighten your belts!”. “Profits are down – tighten your belts!”. Each year we seem to work longer and harder for less.
This has to stop. We have to say Enough Is Enough!
Fujitsu can afford to give us all a pay rise. Staff in Manchester were promised one through their pay deal. Staff elsewhere expected one through the pay planning that was already complete. It is sad that we are having to force Fujitsu to honour its promises, rather than doing so voluntarily.
We also need a fairer pay system.
If you’ve not done so before, why not compare the Manchester pay deal and guidelines this year with the standard company pay guidelines. The Manchester deal wasn’t great, but it was far fairer. Why can’t everyone have this?
Why can’t all our pay scales be published? HP publishes theirs, as do many companies in every sector.
Why can’t we have a cost of living rise every year?
Why can’t pay scales go up each year?
We’ll only get what we deserve if we stand up for it.
The proposal to close the ICL Defined Benefit (DB) Pension Plan is equivalent to a permanent pay cut of around 20% for the 4000 people affected. So far, the company has not come forward with any improvement on their original proposal, other than slipping the date a bit. Discussions with the Pensions Forum (IPMC and UNITE) continue, but are nearing their end.
From the start, UNITE has criticised the company focus on a snapshot of the level of deficit at the end of March, given the recent swings in the stock market. Pensions are long term investments, and decisions about them should be taken on that basis. Aon, a major pension consulting firm, put out a press release on 1st October headlined “Pensions market indicators are returning to long-term norms, so companies can now plan for the future” and reporting a 20% reduction in pension deficits in September alone. This is no time to let Fujitsu get away with permanently closing our pension scheme.
In one of the Pensions Forum meetings, the company revealed that since 2007 it has had a strategy to exit all its Defined Benefit pension schemes, though it hadn’t bothered to inform or consult employees about that. If the ICL DB scheme closes, what chance of survival would the other schemes have?
The Pensions Department has confirmed the vulnerability of the main FJUK (Defined Contribution) scheme, the one most employees who joined since 2000 are in:
The Company does have the right to cease paying contributions to FJUK and employee contributions would cease at that time. FJUK would then be run as a closed arrangement or would commence winding up. Although the Employer does retain the right to close the scheme, Fujitsu currently has no intention of taking this action and remains committed to the UK market and to providing its UK employees with a good quality pension for the future.
While both the Pensions Forum and UNITE have had legal advice which is encouraging about what employees might be able to do if we fail to stop the ICL DB scheme closing, the FJUK scheme appears legally more vulnerable to closure.
Our best chance of defending and improving all our pensions is to stick together. That’s why as well as defending the ICL DB plan, both UNITE and PCS are campaigning for improvements in pension provision for those who already have something worse. Thousands of staff are in the FJUK scheme, which provides a far less adequate or reliable pension. There are a significant number with no pension provision at all, often because they say their pay is so bad they can’t afford the contributions.
UNITE’s campaign in Fujitsu (and several of our members) featured strongly in Monday’s Channel 4 Dispatches documentary, which is now available online if you missed it.
Because members are affected in different ways by the pay and pensions issues, we all have to take maintaining the unity of our campaign very seriously. Back in July, members voted overwhelmingly to approve “four red lines”:
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
To maintain unity, members instructed reps not to recommend acceptance of any offer which did not cover all four points.
Since then, your elected Combine Committee has decided to add “Jobs” to the “Pay & Pensions” campaign, and the industrial action ballot is over all three issues. Tomorrow’s ballot-countdown newsletter will focus on Jobs, where our key goals can be summarised as:
1. Minimise job losses
2. Oppose compulsory redundancies