Despite the limited progress made at the talks with ACAS last week, UNITE offered the company yet another opportunity to resolve the Manchester grievance over the breakdown in industrial relations.
UNITE offered to hold off initiating the industrial action ballot that members had voted for if the company would merely confirm it would continue negotiations without imposing outcomes before they concluded – as required by the agreed grievance procedure.
The company did not take up the olive branch offered. UNITE has therefore registered a formal Failure To Agree and is preparing an industrial action ballot for Manchester members. The correspondence between Terry Thompson (UNITE Regional Officer) and David Stevens (HR) is below:
Failure To Agree
We are very disappointed that the company has chosen not to accept the olive branch offered by UNITE, leaving us no alternative but to register a Failure To Agree in the grievance over the breakdown in industrial relations and move to an industrial action ballot in Manchester.
Members cannot be expected to believe the company is negotiating in good faith when it plans to press ahead with detrimental changes while negotiations are ongoing. Though your response focuses on Alan Jenney’s case, we note that the company was unwilling to confirm it will maintain the status quo on any of the issues in our grievance.
In such turbulent economic times, this refusal to follow agreements threatens every employee’s position. Job security is threatened by the refusal to comply with Annex 1, which has been so successful since its introduction. Terms and Conditions are threatened by the refusal to consult, hear grievances or follow the appropriate agreed procedures before implementing decisions. The support members expect from their union is threatened by the pattern of victimisation of reps in Manchester and elsewhere.
Your suggestion that there was a “joint view that the agreements in Manchester need reviewing in order to ensure that they are both workable and effective” is incorrect. The company hadn’t even told us it wanted changes to the Recognition Agreement or associated Annexes, and still hasn’t told us what you want to change or why. UNITE believes, as set out in the motion (below) from the members’ meeting, that the problems lie with the company’s failure to abide by the agreements, not in the jointly agreed and signed agreements themselves.
If the Company wishes to discuss changes to their agreements, it should raise those issues with us and discuss them, not simply break those agreements. A situation where the company seeks changes while flouting the existing agreements can only create the impression that it wants to make the agreements match its behaviour. Why would members believe the company would be any more likely to adhere to new agreements as old? Such behaviour is no basis for building trust and good industrial relations.
At a time when Fujitsu faces significant challenges in the marketplace, we are perplexed at the determination of the company’s HR department to undermine the hard work of our members, thousands of other employees, and business management. Forcing employees into conflict can only threaten service delivery and Fujitsu’s reputation. This is easily avoidable if the company will just stick to its agreements.
UNITE will continue to ensure employees’ best interests are served by following the mandate from members previously notified to you, and this letter ends the formal procedure for this particular grievance, so that members can take such action as they deem necessary to achieve a resolution. However, UNITE remains ready and willing to meet the company to try to find a mutually acceptable resolution as quickly as possible.
From: Stevens David ( HR )
Sent: 04 July 2011 11:01
To: Thompson, Terry
Cc: O’Gallagher, Kevin; Allinson Ian; Holroyd Philippa; Fowler Jason
Subject: RE: ACAS talks on Breakdown of Industrial Relations
Thank you for your email following the meeting on Tuesday.
I am also pleased that we were able to make progress on some of the issues and come to an joint view that the agreements in Manchester need reviewing in order to ensure that they are both workable and effective. I do need to clarify your perception that the Company wasn’t willing to take up any of UNITE’s suggestions; in reality there were a number of areas that the Company said were worthy of further thought – this included the business escalation route that you had explained.
The Company thought that the conciliation provided by Brian was very effective in ensuring good understanding and helping us to progress, as such we are extremely keen to hold further discussions with ACAS present. The date of 21st July was proposed because it was the first date that could easily be made by everyone, both from ACAS and the Company – whilst I recognise that this is some time away, I feel that we need to come to an agreement that works for everyone over the long-term and that continuity in the meetings is an important part in helping us achieve this. To demonstrate the Company’s commitment to resolving the shared challenges that we have in our relationship we would be prepared to offer a provisional third meeting to further work towards a shared goal; Please let me know if you would like me to schedule this meeting.
Much of the conversation on the day was around UNITE’s claim that the Company is disregarding the agreements under the Manchester Recognition Agreement and the fact that these need to be bought back on track. We do not believe that the situation of Alan Jenney should be tackled through this forum given that this is outside of the recognition agreement and is also subject to a number of formal processes that are being heard in line with Company policy. UNITE has representation at all these meetings. The Company agrees that it would be more conducive to good industrial relations for UNITE to work collaboratively with the Company to discuss the issues rather than organising ballots and undertaking campaign activities, and I would ask that the work with Company Representatives involved in the formal processes detailed above continues. As Alan is outside of the recognition area, and not covered by the recognition area, the status quo principle will not be applied.
I note from your email and the motion from members that the option of balloting members in Manchester is being considered. I would reiterate my view that this would not be conducive to building the trust and confidence that Kevin suggested we needed in our relationship. I would urge UNITE to think carefully about this, taking into account the Company’s commitment to work towards an amicable resolution on the relationship issues and the scheduling of future meetings to do this.
From: Thompson, Terry
Sent: 30 June 2011 09:32
To: Stevens David ( HR )
Cc: O’Gallagher, Kevin; Allinson Ian
Subject: ACAS talks on Breakdown of Industrial Relations
It was good that we were able to make a little progress in a few areas in our meeting with ACAS on Tuesday, but very sad that the company wasn’t willing to take up any of our proposals which would have allowed UNITE to suspend the industrial action in Crewe before it started.
The company proposed, through ACAS, that we meet again on 21st July to continue discussions, this being the first date on which both the company and ACAS said they were both available. We would be keen to continue the discussion in order to establish a basis for more constructive industrial relations. However, the timescale presents a serious problem because the company currently proposes to dismiss Alan Jenney on 10th July, which would make Friday 8th July his last working day.
The UNITE negotiating team are working under a mandate from Manchester members set out in the attached motion which was agreed at the members’ meeting last Friday. We would prefer to be working with you to resolve the issues rather than organising a ballot in Manchester and more campaign activities, but you will appreciate the time pressures we are under.
We have another proposal to create a further opportunity for the issues to be resolved through negotiation. If the company can confirm in writing by noon on Monday 4th July that it will respect the “status quo” principle (as required by our Recognition Agreement) in relation to the issues in our grievance (including not issuing notice of dismissal to Alan Jenney) while talks continue, this would avoid forcing us to register a Failure To Agree and initiate the industrial action ballot Manchester members voted for.
Whether the company takes up this offer or decides to force us to register a Failure To Agree and move to a ballot, UNITE remains ready and willing to negotiate on or before 21st July.
Issues are best resolved through dialogue not conflict, and we hope you will take the opportunity we are offering.
Motion from Manchester Members’ Meeting 24th June 2011
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:
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.