Q&A on Joint Statement, 10th November 2009

Thanks to all the members whose participation in the campaign made the joint statement issued by Fujitsu and UNITE on Wednesday possible. This eleventh-hour move means the start of negotiations.
Reps have been fielding queries from quite a number of employees about the statement. This note hopes to deal with some of the most common questions.

General

Does this resolve the dispute?

No. It means that the company has agreed to talks. This will be the first time Fujitsu and UNITE have held talks at a national level.

Why doesnít it solve my issues on jobs/pay/pensions?

All the joint statement does is put back the deadlines facing employees on the one hand, and facing the company on the other. It was never intended to resolve the issues themselves, merely to allow time for them to be resolved. The statement is the start of a process, not the end.

Is the action short of strike off as well as the strike?

Yes.

What happens if the talks donít succeed?

If necessary, UNITE could issue a new call for industrial action.

What does the extension to the ballot timetable mean?

There is normally a time limit of four weeks after a ballot result is declared, during which industrial action must begin if it is be protected by the ballot. Fujitsu has agreed to extend this by a further four weeks, which is the maximum allowed. For industrial action to be protected by the ballot, it must now start by 23rd December 2009, with notice of action being served by 16th December. Once action began, it would be protected by the ballot for twelve weeks, which could be up to mid-March 2010.

Isnít this like Royal Mail Ė delaying action until after Xmas to weaken the union position?

No. The January-March period (Q4) is the key for Fujitsu in terms of profit, revenue and new contracts. The period before Xmas is relatively quiet for many areas of the business and not the best time for industrial action.

We were all geared up to strike at my site. Wonít it be harder if we have to do it again?

Some sites were very well organised, others less so. All sites will be even better prepared after this ďdress rehearsalĒ if talks fail and we have to take action later. Many people who doubted whether UNITE could have an impact have learned from the joint statement to all UK employees and will be more confident and supportive in future.

Wonít it be harder to organise action after loads of people have left through VR?

Unless the situation changes, we will lose some of our active members and reps through Voluntary Redundancy (VR) on 11th December. However, the vast majority of us will still be here. New people are joining UNITE every day and more people are getting involved through the ongoing campaign. Any industrial action after 11th December would be more effective as the company would be more short-staffed. Some of the areas where the company is cutting too much will be more visible after 11th December, helping the case against Compulsory Redundancies.
Jobs

How is the timetable for redundancies affected?

The company intended to dismiss redundant employees without notice on 11th December 2009. Now those who wish to stay will not be dismissed before 31st January 2010. In the meantime, UNITE will be continuing its campaigning over Jobs, Pay and Pensions, including strong opposition to Compulsory Redundancies.

Iíve been accepted for Voluntary Redundancy (VR). What does this mean for me?

If the redundancies go ahead, you would still leave on 11th December 2009.

Iíve been selected for Compulsory Redundancy (CR) but now want to go on 11th December. Can I?

The extension until 31st January is only for those who want it.

How will the company know who wants to stay past 11th December?

The mechanism has not yet been put in place, but it will be a personal choice for those individuals selected for Compulsory Redundancy.

If I opt to stay past 11th December, what happens?

The company would give you notice on 11th December. Even if your notice period is short (e.g. four weeks), you would not be dismissed before 31st January 2010. If the redundancy went ahead, you would then receive your redundancy payment along with Pay In Lieu Of Notice (PILON) for any balance of your notice period that you had not worked.

How does delaying redundancy until 31st January help?

The main benefit is that it gives time for the UNITE campaign and the negotiations to change the situation and hopefully to save your job. There are a number of secondary benefits. The extra time gives you more opportunity for retraining or redeployment inside the company. You would continue to accrue pension while still in employment. Once on your notice period, you are entitled to more support (e.g. government funded training). Itís easier to get a job externally while still in employment.

Once the company has given me notice, can it be withdrawn?

Only with your agreement.

What does the bit about annual leave mean?

Itís not entirely clear yet what the company intends to do, but Fujitsuís aim is to minimise the extra they have to pay to bridge the time between 11th December 2009 and 31st January 2010.

If I say I want to stay after 11th December but then want to leave before 31st January, is this possible?

The company says this should be discussed with your line manager and can be agreed locally.

The on-site Outplacement services are being delivered until 11th December. What support will be provided between then and 31st January?

Fujitsu is currently talking to the Outplacement provider about extending the on-site support period

Whatís happening with PCS?

PCS did not issue their notice of action, but have been having separate talks with Fujitsu. The company has agreed to extend the validity of their ballot to 23rd December, as for UNITE. Fujitsu has agreed to work with PCS to discuss ways of avoiding compulsory redundancies and has made proposals on extending the scope of PCS collective bargaining. PCS are still in dispute and they too say they may need to use industrial action if they cannot reach agreement. UNITE continues to cooperate with PCS where possible.
Pay

Why is there no mention of pay in the statement?

In the meeting, the discussion included jobs, pay and pensions. The meeting was not intended to reach agreement on all the issues themselves, but to give us time to resolve them. The UNITE campaign on Jobs, Pay & Pensions continues and there is no fixed agenda for the talks.
Pensions

How is the timetable for pensions affected?

The company intended to end pensions consultation on 14th November. It will now continue until at least 31st January 2010. This does not affect the companyís proposed implementation date, which had already been put back a year.
Further Questions

Please feed any further questions in through your UNITE reps.
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Unite members across Fujitsu Services Limited in the UK have been taking industrial as part of their dispute over jobs, union recognition, pay and pensions. Action from 28 February has included 15 days of strikes and ongoing action short of strike.

INDUSTRIAL ACTION IS CURRENTLY SUSPENDED while members consider an offer from Fujitsu.

The national dispute follows the resolution of a local dispute in Manchester which included 12 strike days.

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

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