Updates on Jobs, Pay and Pensions

Jobs
Many of us breathed a sign of relief once we knew we were personally safe from this round of redundancies. But many people have commented that if we allow the company to treat people unfairly or force them out on the cheap, the company could come back for more job cuts. That’s one reason so many people are saying “Enough Is Enough”.
This week the company has told some staff in Solihull that they are now at risk of redundancy. The company is also trying to get away with taking some late volunteers and pairings as additional job losses, rather than using them to avoid Compulsory Redundancies, as they told the redundancy consultation forums. If we don’t stand up for ourselves and insist on being treated fairly and with respect, where will this end?
The company says that there were 586 Voluntary Redundancies and 254 Compulsory Redundancies. Of the 254, around 70 are still at risk and trying to save their jobs. With the numbers left at risk so small, there really is no excuse for a company of this size trying to force through Compulsory Redundancies. With reasonable efforts, such small numbers of staff could be redeployed fairly quickly, or the same number of jobs lost through natural wastage. Taking these measures would not cost much, and might even save the company money through reduced redundancy costs as well as reducing the risk of litigation. Good management like this could raise morale and improve productivity, as well as avoiding devastating the lives of members and their families.
Pay
This dispute started over the company’s last-minute withdrawal of the 2009 pay review – even in Manchester where they had negotiated a pay agreement with UNITE. Unless we secure a fair settlement to the dispute, there is a risk the company could try to extend the pay freeze for another year.
The release this week of the latest inflation figures show how serious it would be for staff if Fujitsu froze pay again. RPI inflation has shot up to 2.4% in the year to December, with the less relevant CPI inflation (that the government uses) even higher at 2.9%. It is possible that the inflation rate will rise further next month, as the January increase in VAT back up to 17.5% shows in the figures.
Fujitsu staff have typically had below-inflation pay reviews for many years, and we can ill-afford to see further cuts in our standard of living. We’re expected to take on more and more work each year, with our productivity rising by around 8% per year. Shouldn’t we benefit from the extra wealth we create?
The news that Fujitsu has been made “preferred supplier” for the giant DWP desktop contract, ousting HP, as well as a number of other significant wins, makes senior management’s pleas of poverty even less credible.
Pensions
When trying to persuade employees that the closure of the ICL DB pension plan was necessary, the company often seemed to muddle up the past deficit (most of which relates to people who don’t work here any more) with future pension provision. But there’s no doubt that the deficit numbers are scary. The company quoted £1bn to £1.5bn as the likely deficit at the time of the March 2009 valuation (which is not yet complete). March 2009 was the low point of the stock market during the recession and since then equity values have risen by about 50%.
The Pension Protection Fund (PPF) is reporting a dramatic improvement in the financial position of pension funds, as summarised in this BBC report.
It is hard to believe that the position of the ICL DB Pension Plan has not also improved massively since the snapshot taken in March last year.

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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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