Pay background
There is downward pressure on pay and benefits in the IT Services industry, reflected in years of below-inflation pay reviews and cuts in other terms and conditions. We need to strengthen union organisation across the industry to avoid a “race to the bottom” and counter this effectively. Our declining individual bargaining power needs to be replaced with greater collective bargaining power.
UNITE’s “fair and transparent pay and benefits” campaign, which covers several of the major IT Services companies, is key to this strategy. Employees will soon be asked to help the campaign, including by completing a survey.
For more information see www.unitetheunion.org/itcharter
If this campaign is successful, it can not only improve the way pay and benefits are dealt with in our industry, but also build organisation which can influence other issues too.
Manchester Pay 2011
The company has delayed and obstructed negotiations. As usual, they want employees to worry about a delay in the pay review enough that they accept a worse deal than is necessary.
UNITE has submitted a legal claim to the CAC over the company’s refusal to provide adequate data for constructive negotiations, but we are still awaiting a hearing.
The company has used its failure to implement a number of elements of last year’s pay agreement to try to delay the talks this year. For example, the elements on pensions and future pay negotiations should already have been incorporated.
Details of the company offer were circulated on Wednesday. It is significantly better than what the company is doing for people outside the bargaining unit, but has problems, such as:

  • Breaking previous agreements
  • For the first time, the company is seeking to remove a number of positive elements from the existing agreement, including points on pensions which are very important.
  • No increase to D1-D4 pay scales
  • A smaller proportion of the pot going on Cost Of Living than last year, despite high inflation
  • A shift away from the “matrix” to “managers’ discretion”
  • The company wants to be able to introduce new anomalies in allocation of benefits such as company cars and bonuses
  • The proposed “Appendix 4” would mean UNITE being unable to monitor whether the company had actually spent what they say they will

After a discussion, members voted to reject the company offer. This has been communicated to Fujitsu and negotiations will resume at stage 3 on Wednesday.
Members were urged to respond to the notice sent out on Wednesday to say what our negotiating team should prioritise for improvement in the company offer.
Defend Alan Jenney
Members discussed an update on the case of Alan Jenney, UNITE rep and Deputy Chair of our Fujitsu UK Combine Committee. The company is singling him out for unfair and unnecessary redundancy. The company has so far declined the various simple solutions offered by UNITE over recent months which would avoid the redundancy, reinforcing the belief that the company is deliberately victimising Alan because of the union role he performs on behalf of employees.
Members in Crewe have voted for industrial action, which will start with a strike on Thursday 30th June.
For more information, see the appeal for support at www.ourunion.org.uk.
Breakdown in Industrial Relations
There was an excellent discussion about the situation that led to the collective grievance being lodged and how members should respond.
Everyone felt frustrated that the company seemed unwilling to respond to employees’ concerns other than through campaigns and disputes, creating unnecessary confrontation, which we remain keen to avoid if possible. Though there are a number of important issues, it is the impending dismissal of Alan Jenney that currently creates the greatest urgency.
The increased number, scale and pace of attacks on terms and conditions makes it critical that staff get involved – leaving things to your reps will not work. Members took away copies of the latest “one per desk” leaflet to distribute across the site. A number commented on the need to encourage others to join the union, to talk to colleagues about the issues, and for more members to attend meetings as reading email notices is not enough to understand the issues we face.
Members agreed the following motion:

We note with concern the breakdown in industrial relations. We believe that the key changes required from the company to establish a healthy working relationship are:

  1. Honouring and implementing agreements
  2. Engaging in regular dialogue at an appropriate level outside the context of disputes
  3. Consulting before making decisions that affect staff
  4. Focusing on resolving issues by agreement where possible, rather than generating unnecessary conflict which undermines the reputation and future success of the company
  5. Respecting the role of employee representatives, who sometimes have to put forward views senior management may not like, and seeking to address the substantive issues rather than attempting to victimise reps

We believe that these changes, which are no more than “good practice”, are at least as important at times when the company faces challenges as at any other time. A style of management which makes employees feel disconnected from their employer can only harm the future prospects for a company which has been built through our hard work and commitment.

We welcome the company’s agreement to meet with UNITE and ACAS on Tuesday 28th June 2011, and hope that this meeting can result in a rapid improvement in industrial relations.

However, we are concerned that the company has not confirmed that it is respecting the “status quo” pending resolution of our collective grievance, and in particular appears to be moving towards the dismissal of UNITE rep Alan Jenney, despite UNITE having put forward viable alternatives.

If Tuesday’s meeting does not result in a positive outcome (including for Alan’s case), we call on UNITE to ballot us quickly for industrial action over the breakdown in industrial relations and in defence of our agreements.

We resolve to support the campaign of UNITE members in Crewe in defence of Alan Jenney and union organisation. We congratulate them on their vote for industrial action and resolve to support them, including by:

  1. Explaining the issues to colleagues
  2. Encouraging staff outside Crewe to book 30th June as annual leave to join striking Crewe members at the march and rally in Manchester.
  3. Helping to publicise and raise money for the campaign.
  4. Donating pay to the strike fund for days when Crewe members are on strike and we are not.
  5. Wearing campaign stickers.
  6. Encouraging colleagues to join the union and get involved.

If you have not already done so, please respond to the “membership check” email sent out on Sunday 19th June, to ensure any industrial action ballot can be conducted properly.
UNITE will provide an update to members following Tuesday’s meeting with the company and ACAS.
A collection at the meeting raised £120 for the CRE02 strikers. Please consider donating part of your pay to their strike fund. Cheques payable to “Manchester IT Workers Group” can be sent to Unite the Union, MAN34. If you use online banking, you can donate to Account Number: 00980539, Sort Code: 30-91-48, but please tell us about your donation
Please let your reps know if you are planning to attend the Manchester march and rally with our striking Crewe members on Thursday, so that we can organise to meet up. The details are:
Assemble 11:00, Thursday 30th June, All Saints Park, Oxford Road, Manchester

March to Castlefield Arena, Manchester City Centre for rally at 12:30

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Unite members across Fujitsu Services Limited in the UK are taking industrial as part of their dispute over jobs, union recognition, pay and pensions. Action from 28 February has included strikes and ongoing action short of strike. Further strikes have been called for 22, 25, 26 May.

This follows the recent 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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