3 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.
Though “consultation” continues on both pensions and jobs, this is very different to negotiation. The company isn’t even talking about pay. Fujitsu should sit down with UNITE and PCS and negotiate a settlement on Jobs, Pay and Pensions, avoiding the need for damaging industrial action. Unfortunately there seems little prospect of the company taking this responsible approach unless they come under real pressure. That’s why a big YES+YES vote is so important in the forthcoming ballot.
The latest national leaflet (full colour) has begun 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.
Fujitsu’s approach to redundancies has been a disgrace from the outset:
- It failed to consult when it was contemplating redundancies (as per the EU Directive), waiting instead until it had a specific proposal (in line with the UK’s inadequate legislation).
- It chose to set up six parallel forums, preventing effective consultation and hampering clear communication. It has even refused to meet the requests from the forums to all meet in the same place.
- It delayed training for the reps, many of whom are only now being trained (thanks to UNITE and PCS).
- It has failed to provide any specific justification for the proposals, failed to provide information about people not at risk doing the same jobs as those who are, failed to stop recruitment into jobs that could have been offered to people at risk, and failed to stop overtime where that could have been converted into jobs.
- It has constantly tried to divert the forums into focussing on selection criteria instead of the topics which could really make a difference.
- It has given inconsistent, incomplete, contradictory and inaccurate information to the forums.
The company announced a Voluntary Redundancy (VR) programme without getting or considering feedback from all the forums. It restricted it to those it had arbitrarily placed at risk. The process for getting quotes has been slow and error-prone – many staff still don’t have their quotes, while others have had to repeatedly seek corrections. The company still won’t give a sensible answer to questions about how VR applications will be assessed – it still looks more like an attempt to make selection easier for managers than an attempt to mitigate the consequences for employees.
The attempt to get employees rushing around in circles worrying about selection criteria is ridiculous. The first step in selection was deciding on the 6000 people to put at risk – the company has still not provided information to allow a meaningful discussion on this. The second step in selection was dividing people into selection pools and setting targets for numbers of jobs to be lost – the company has still not provided information to allow a meaningful discussion on this. These two factors have far more impact on who the company might select than any “selection criteria”. Despite the fact that proposed selection criteria are legally supposed to be provided at the start of the 90-days, the company withheld these from UNITE in some of the forums until this week!
The company itself can’t cope with its haste. They have been so overloaded with questions that they have stopped adding new ones. Instead, they want to produce “Fact Sheets” on various topics. This is already generating new concerns, both because some of the “Facts” aren’t correct and because it means the company can avoid answering important questions much more easily.
The company seems desperate to rush headlong into selection. At this week’s Forum meetings, the company presented a draft project plan for the redundancies. Though a draft, it is very revealing:
- More time allocated to discussing selection criteria than to avoiding redundancies and mitigating the consequences
- Managers score employees by 26th October
- 1:1 meetings to discuss provisional selection take place in the first week of November
- All the actions which could help people get redeployed, like CV & interview training and seeking alternative work, are pushed to the very end of the process when they have the least prospect of saving jobs
It doesn’t have to be like this. Fujitsu could have a proper discussion about what it is trying to achieve and why. If job losses really were required, it could, for example:
- Make the changes over a year or two, like many other companies do, instead of over the legal-minimum 90-days.
- Seriously explore the many alternatives to redundancy put forward by reps, instead of dismissing them because each on its own wouldn’t save 1200 jobs.
- Provide good quality retraining and redeployment support early enough to make a difference.
- Provide a good redundancy package for everyone, which would encourage more volunteers as well as helping anyone selected.
- Run a proper Voluntary Redundancy & Early Retirement programme across the company, accepting volunteers where that would reduce the number of non-voluntary redundancies, unless the effectiveness or balance of the unit would be significantly impaired by their departure.
- Put in place a “job swap” or “pairing” system for rejected volunteers and people selected to exchange places.
“Just Practising” Pickets
The plan for humorous protests outside Fujitsu sites is beginning to take shape. The idea is that the protests will look like pickets (though not asking people not to cross!) but with placards reading “Just Practising”. Some members are planning to bring along “L” plates.
Protests are beginning to take shape at:
- Tuesday 13th October, 12:30pm, MAN33/34/35
- Thursday 15th October, time To Be Confirmed, CRE02
- Monday 19th October (To Be Confirmed), LON22
If you’d like one where you are, please speak to your local UNITE reps/contacts.