Updates from Manchester

Donít forget that there are further UNITE meetings (open to all staff) about the redundancy situation:
∑ Thursday 29th October, 1:30pm-2:30pm, 33GCR2
∑ Friday 30th October, 10am-11am, 33GCR2

UNITE representatives for Manchester met with Fujitsu management and ACAS on 7th October.
ACAS countersigned the updated Manchester agreements which had come into effect on 20th May.
The main business was a stage 3 meeting over breaches of our Recognition and Annex 1 agreements. This had been requested by UNITE following the redundancy dismissal of a member. A resolution to the individual aspects of that case was separately agreed, and the meeting focussed on the wider implications.
The following outcomes were also agreed:

3) The company now has a centralised case-management process for all grievances and disciplinaries. Grievances go to the Employment Team, who occasionally reject them without them being heard. It was agreed that for grievances relating to employees in the Manchester Bargaining Unit, a modified process would be used. If the Employment Team would normally reject a grievance, they will inform Larry Upton, who will discuss it with UNITE. If an individual or collective grievance is backed by UNITE, a hearing will always take place. If the company believes the grievance procedure is being used inappropriately, this will be discussed collectively with UNITE.
4) Both parties agree that agreed procedures are beneficial. A formal “red alert” process will be used to ensure speedy resolution (within days) if either party believes the other is not following the agreed procedures. This will be used to ensure the procedures are followed correctly, not to deal with the substantive issues themselves. If informal and local resolution has not been found, the escalation routes are as follows:
Fujitsu: Unit HR Manager, Larry Upton, Business/Capability Unit head, Ella Bennett/Roger Gilbert
UNITE: Ian Allinson, Terry Thompson
The company will identify 3-4 Business/Capability Unit heads to be used for this.
5) UNITE said there was a “red alert” over the jobs situation in the SAM team in the Service Desks, Centre Of Excellence (COE). Some work has been moved from MAN35 to MAN37 despite grievances being unresolved. The company will provide any evidence that this was mandated by the customer rather than being a Fujitsu decision. No permanent appointments will be made for the work in MAN37 while the grievances are outstanding. Larry Upton would speak to John Lucas by Thursday 8th October in relation to ensuring that the individuals affected should not be forced into other roles without their agreement while their grievances are outstanding.
6) It was agreed that it was important to re-start the process of informal meetings to progress the issues in the COE to a mutually acceptable resolution. All the key employees and managers must be able to participate, to ensure the process is successful. The company’s concern is HR resource to facilitate this. UNITE proposed that ACAS facilitate the meetings, but agreed that it was important that Richard Batty (or his manager) took part to ensure there was management commitment to see it through. The company agreed to respond on this suggestion. Brian will investigate whether this would be charged for.
7) A discussion began, but was not concluded, about consultation requirements for job changes. The focus was situations where the company operated a “shared service” model, but employees were being moved between accounts and/or functions within that. The example was where an employee had clearly defined tasks and was being moved to do new work within the same department but that would require training, different tasks etc.

Since then, a further informal meeting with Larry Upton (Employee Relations Manager) took place on 21st October which agreed updates on a number of the points:

3) Handling of grievances
∑ Larry had informed Sandra Kemp of the agreed approach that will now ensure that a hearing takes place for all grievances backed by UNITE for the Manchester bargaining unit.
4) Escalation procedure for breaches of agreements
∑ The company has not yet identified 3-4 Business/Capability Unit heads to be used for this. Larry is on leave next week, but expects to deal with this quickly on his return.
5) Jobs in the SAM team in Service Desks, Centre of Excellence (COE)
∑ Emma Hewitt had provided Larry with a summary of what had happened leading up to the work of the team being transferred to MAN37.
∑ Larry said that the decision to move the work had been taken by Fujitsu, not the customer. This was contrary to what was stated at the time of the ACAS meeting. Larry reported that the Business Unit had taken the decision after discussions with Core.
∑ Larry confirmed that no permanent resource had been allocated to do the work at MAN37.
∑ UNITE said that as well as being in breach of the Manchester agreements, taking the decision to move the work like this without consulting the employees affected was in breach of the People Management Charter. Larry agreed to investigate who had been involved, so that any repetition could be prevented.
∑ Larry reported that he had not spoken to John Lucas about the situation, but that COE management had agreed that the team members would not be forced into other roles while their grievance was being dealt with. They intended to offer other work to the team members on a temporary and voluntary basis for the time being.
∑ UNITE suggested that since the decision had been taken by Fujitsu, the work should be given back to the team while the grievance was dealt with. Larry agreed to speak to John Lucas about this.
∑ UNITE raised concerns that the “at risk” lists being used by HR and management when considering priority for other roles did not appear to be accurate. This had recently arisen in two instances, one of which related to a member of the SAM team. Larry agreed to investigate this.
6) COE issues
∑ There had been correspondence between Ian Allinson and Richard Batty about restarting the COE meetings. Larry confirmed that the company was happy in principle for ACAS to facilitate the meetings. Larry will speak to Richard Batty to ensure local management are happy with arrangements. Larry will speak to Brian Sykes about whether ACAS will need to charge for their services.

The meeting discussed a proposal to rearrange a number of current jobs to enable a member be redeployed.
It also covered a number of other points:

Extend & Blend Home Office TUPE
∑ The company had briefed PCS about the likely TUPE to AtosOrigin, and Larry has alerted Caroline Bennell, the relevant HR contact, of the need to consult UNITE.
∑ Larry reported that the TUPE was expected to be in October 2010 and that the scale of it was much smaller than originally anticipated.
∑ Larry reported that active consideration was being given to the requests from UNITE and the various Redundancy Forums for a joint meeting with the Project Cherry Steering Group. He expected a response to be provided next week or earlier.
∑ Larry thanked UNITE for the letter about the redundancy programme and said it was helpful to collate many of the points that had come up. Larry said that the company was giving it detailed consideration. He thought it likely that the company would provide a single full formal response to UNITE. Larry had forwarded the letter to the company representatives on each forum, as requested, and said it would also be discussed at the Redundancy Forum meetings.
The numbers below refer to the points in the UNITE letter. The fact that a point is listed here does not necessarily mean all issues within that point have been fully addressed.
1) In response to the points about the financial position, Larry said he would be attending the company “Regional Management Meeting” tomorrow. The UKCF will get a financial and business update on Friday. Larry expected that information from these would be sent to UNITE, the Redundancy Forums and the wider workforce quite quickly.
4.9 & 4.11) points on Resource Centres, CV & Interview training
∑ Jim Checkley (who reports to Paul Brown) is coordinating setting up Resource Centres in Manchester, Bracknell and Stevenage. Fujitsu is using Penna as an external resource for these. They are intended to be available from 9th November for those provisionally selected for redundancy, including volunteers. The service will include CV and interview training.
∑ Pete Aggett is making arrangements for the Resource Centre in MAN35, and would welcome UNITE involvement in setting up and running it. Pete is on —.
4.15) Larry reported that for people in the Manchester bargaining unit, the company is aware of the requirements for trial periods and has put in place mechanisms to ensure people get “offer letters” in line with Annex 1.
5.4) The company will allow training for UNITE reps in the Manchester bargaining unit to deal with individual issues in the redundancy process. UNITE raised a concern that in areas where the company does not recognise unions yet, the process could be delayed if members had difficulty arranging for a trained rep or full time officer to accompany them. Larry will respond on whether the company will allow time off for training for UNITE reps elsewhere for this.
7) Larry said the company has so far received nearly 600 VR applications. UNITE expressed the view that the lack of clear answers on a range of factors affecting decisions was still reducing the number of applications. UNITE also said that employees not at risk were getting inconsistent responses if they enquired about VR.
7.3-7.7) Larry said that it was the company’s intention to use the criteria to score people in the Manchester bargaining unit who applied for Voluntary Redundancy. However, while this information would feed into the decision-making process, nobody would be rejected solely on the basis of their score. It is the criteria in Annex 1 that will apply and the default answer is “yes”. UNITE pointed out that sometimes a “no” could be turned into a “yes” if there was flexibility on timing, knowledge transfer and appropriate training for someone else to take the role.
7.8) An outline appeal process for rejected applications for Voluntary Redundancy was agreed for the Manchester bargaining unit:
∑ Larry will adapt the letter to reject a VR application for the Manchester bargaining unit to include the appeal process below. It will emphasise that the purpose of the discussions and appeals is to try to jointly find and agree a way in which a VR can replace a CR if that is at all possible.
∑ Employees whose VR application is rejected will be offered the opportunity to discuss this informally with the relevant manager
∑ If they wish to appeal, they must contact Larry Upton
∑ An appeal hearing will involve the employee, the manager who took the original decision to reject the application (to explain the business justification), the more senior manager hearing the appeal, Larry Upton or Kelly Metcalfe from HR, and a union rep/officer or accompanying colleague where appropriate.
∑ The outcome of the appeal will be communicated within 3 days.
8.3) Larry will provide an updated list of the staff in the Manchester bargaining unit who are at risk of redundancy, including which forum and selection pool they are in. UNITE emphasised the urgency of this, as the company has still not told us who we are representing.
8.4) Larry will ensure that the missing RPP information is provided.
8.16) The review specified in Annex 1 section 6.1.4 will include accepted and rejected VR applications, as well as selected CRs.
8.17-8.20) The company plan for communication around selection is:
∑ Initially brief people of their provisional selection in a short 1-1 meeting. In this meeting, information about scoring etc will be provided.
∑ Employees can have a further 1-1 meeting with the manager who decided their selection, to discuss it in detail. The manager will have the authority in that meeting to change the scoring (and hence selection).
∑ Appeal to a more senior manager
∑ For employees in the Manchester bargaining unit only, a Second Appeal to a more senior manager

The company has since rejected the request from UNITE and the Redundancy Forums for a joint meeting with the Project Cherry Steering Group.

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'Fujitsu Whistleblower' hotline. Concerned about unethical or illegal practices? Contact the hotline on 0800 852 7479 or fujitsu.whistleblowers@unitetheunion.org. It is run by Unite the Union and your identity will be kept strictly confidential. Don't let Fujitsu silence whistleblowers.

Unite members working for Fujitsu Services Limited in the Manchester bargaining unit have taken 32 strike days over compulsory redundancies, victimisation of reps and breaches of agreements. This follows 27 previous days of strike action.

Industrial action is currently suspended but the fight continues.

Further information is available here including a downloadable appeal for support leaflet and how to donate to our strike fund.

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