Compulsory Redundancy, Breach of Agreements, Urgent Action (Manchester)

In the last few days a very serious situation has developed, over which urgent action is required – see below for what you can do.

UNITE has been informed that Fujitsu intends to dismiss Pete F—- as redundant on Thursday (6th September). This is despite being totally unnecessary and in breach of our Recognition Agreement, Annex 1 and the settlement agreed on 20th January 2012.

As well as being a very serious situation for Pete personally, it is very serious for all of us:

  1. If we allow the company to dismiss Pete in breach of agreements, who will be next?
  2. This would be the first time an employee in the Manchester bargaining unit had been forced out through redundancy without their consent since the agreements were introduced in 2007.

UNITE reps have escalated the issue to director level with the company and made clear the gravity of the situation. There are jobs available that Pete has applied for – all the company needs to do is offer him a suitable job.

Protest
UNITE is inviting all staff to join a lunchtime protest calling for the threat of dismissal to be lifted and for the company to honour its agreements:
12:00 Monday 3rd September
Meet in MAN34 reception


This is very short notice so please do everything you can to spread the word and ensure a good attendance. It’s what you’d want if you were Pete’s position and by helping prevent Pete’s dismissal you can help avoid such treatment becoming the norm and affecting you later.

Members’ Meeting
UNITE is holding a meeting for all members in the Manchester bargaining unit:
1-2:30pm, Wednesday 5th September
MAN35 canteen


The main purpose of the members’ meeting will be to decide whether to ballot for industrial action if the company goes ahead and dismisses Pete. Please do your utmost to attend and have your say – a big turnout makes it more likely that the company will listen to reason and step back from dismissing Pete.

Members are entitled to attend the meeting in work time. If your manager might need to arrange cover for while you attend, it is important that you ask them now to confirm your release. If you have any difficulty securing release, please contact your rep immediately. If you leave this until the last minute, reps may not be able to resolve this for you. Service Desks management are asking that people request release by the end of Monday wherever possible.

The meeting will also discuss an update on negotiations with the company over Out Of Hours terms following a meeting taking place on Monday.

Further background on Pete’s case
Pete was in the scope of the Business & Application Services (BAS) redundancies earlier in the year. Despite poor handling of the redundancies by the company, all the other job losses in Manchester were handled without forcing anyone out who wanted to stay.

UNITE complained about the handling of the BAS and Business Operations redundancies at the time, including writing two letters to Duncan Tait setting out the issues including breaches of our Annex 1 agreement. For some time the company refused to meet UNITE to try to resolve the issues. A members’ meeting on 31st May passed the following motion:

Motion 3: Redundancies
We note that the company has handled the redundancies in Business Operations and Business & Application Services poorly, including breaking Annex 1 and the Security of Employment Agreement (SEA) in a number of important regards. Despite UNITE raising problems through the redundancy forums, through the Joint Working Group and directly with Duncan Tait, the company failed to address them.

We note that there are currently two employees in the Manchester bargaining unit at risk of Compulsory Redundancy in the near future and who are asking to stay. If these redundancies went ahead, they would be the first people in the bargaining unit forced out without their consent since Annex 1 was introduced in 2007.

We welcome the fact that Fujitsu has finally arranged to discuss the situation with UNITE tomorrow morning and hope that outcomes acceptable to both employees can be found.

If they are not, we instruct our reps to place the breaches of agreements and handling of these redundancy cases into the formal procedure for resolving collective issues.

Following the conference call on 1st June the company were still planning to dismiss Pete on 7th June, so reps implemented the decision of the members’ meeting and placed the issue into the collective issues procedure on 6th June.

The company confirmed to UNITE that it would honour the status quo (which means not going ahead with issuing notice of dismissal etc) while the grievance was heard, which is why the recent news that it plans to go ahead with dismissal has come as such an unpleasant surprise.

The company delayed holding the stage 1 grievance meeting, and then said it needed more time to respond following the meeting – it still hasn’t responded. The company has strung out the grievance process and now plans to dismiss Pete rather than making a serious attempt to resolve the issues through dialogue.

Our Recognition Agreement says:
“The Company and the Union agree to refrain from taking any other action in relation to the contested issues until the procedure outlined in this Recognition Agreement has been exhausted (unless the action is required by law or has to be taken before the procedure is exhausted to avoid missing a legal deadline). In other words, the pre-existing circumstances will continue to apply.”

Annex 1 makes it even more explicit:
“Unless mutually agreed, an Employee will not be redeployed, issued with notice of dismissal, or dismissed by reason of redundancy, until their individual appeals or grievances in relation to the redeployment or redundancy processes have been fully heard.”

Of course this issue of “status quo” was central to the dispute resolved in January this year, following issues where the company sought to impose detrimental change to Out Of Hours payments. Point 3 of the agreement reads:
“Both parties want a better future relationship which is built on trust, and are committed to honouring all agreements until any changes are agreed, including in respect of the “status quo”. For clarity Status Quo means: That status quo will be maintained on all matters except where jointly agreed that it is in both parties interest to move more quickly. If the company is concerned that the status quo is being abused, or that restoring the status quo could have a disproportionate impact on the business, the company will raise this with UNITE with a view to reaching a resolution.”

The company has a track record of attempting to break our agreements, but members have a track record of successfully defending them when necessary. It is vital that we maintain that record now and stop Pete’s dismissal.

Pete has a good work record at Fujitsu, and could readily be redeployed. Under our agreements employees at risk of redundancy are supposed to get priority for other jobs – in line with the company’s legal responsibility to seek, and where possible offer, suitable alternative work to those at risk of redundancy.
Yet jobs Pete has applied for have been given to employees not at risk, in one case before Pete was even given an interview.

This situation is easy to resolve – Fujitsu should do the right thing and offer Pete a suitable alternative job now and maintain the excellent record of avoiding forced redundancies in Manchester.

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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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