Manchester: Members’ meeting report

Thanks to everyone who attended today’s members meeting.  Below is a summary of the main points.
Compulsory Redundancy, Breach of Agreements
Since the protest and Joint Working Group on Monday the company has confirmed that it is delaying Pete —-’s dismissal slightly, to allow a hiring manager to consider other applicants for a role Pete has already been interviewed for.  UNITE has welcomed the delay but pointed out that is completely unnecessary – the company can (and in other cases has) ring fence jobs for people at risk of redundancy.
In discussion, the contrast was made with the way the company is handling the Service Desk Solutions (SDS) redeployments, where the company is proactively identifying jobs for people, and even putting undue pressure on people to accept alternative work by making the misleading suggestion that refusal of jobs would mean people had dismissed themselves.
Members unanimously agreed the following motion:

We note that the company currently plans to dismiss Pete —- through Compulsory Redundancy, despite this being in breach of our agreements and jobs being available which it has yet to offer Pete.
Fujitsu should be proud of the record that nobody from the Manchester bargaining unit has been forced out through redundancy without their consent since the Annex 1 agreement was introduced in 2007.  This is a demonstration of the Corporate Social Responsibility to which the company says it aspires.
We note that if the company went ahead with Pete’s dismissal without dealing with the outstanding grievance, this would breach our Recognition Agreement, Annex 1 and the agreement reached in January 2012 which clearly states “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”.
We call on the company to offer Pete suitable alternative work, or if they believe there is a genuine reason why that is not possible to lift the threat of dismissal and try to find a resolution through discussion with UNITE through the agreed procedures.

We believe that if the company goes ahead with Pete’s dismissal in breach of our agreements this would not only be bad for Pete, but represent a renewed threat to every employee over every issue that the company believes in imposing decisions rather than genuinely trying to reach agreement through dialogue.

If the company goes ahead with dismissing Pete in breach of our agreements, we resolve to instruct our reps to organise an industrial action ballot and to campaign for the biggest possible “yes” vote.

Please look out for an email from UNITE in the next few days asking you to confirm or correct your membership details.  Please respond to this as quickly as possible as this is vital to enable any ballot to be organised.
Members raised the question of when UNITE should go to the media if the issue is not resolved promptly.
Out Of Hours terms
Members discussed recent developments in the discussions with the company about Out Of Hours (overtime, shift, standby, callout) terms, as set out in the email yesterday, and discussed possible responses.
Members decided to:

Engage with the company at stage 1 to see if changes can be made to make the guidelines acceptable.  Engage employees outside Manchester in campaigning for changes to the guidelines.

Driving Risk Assessment
Health & Safety reps gave an update following a number of queries from members.
Members should always work (including driving) in a safe way, and cooperate with the company’s activities to manage Health & Safety.  However, the document circulated by the company was not a proper risk assessment and people were merely being asked to sign it rather than carry one out.  People should not sign “risk assessments” unless they are confident that they are competent to carry them out and are happy with the contents.  Health & Safety reps are taking up the issue with the company and were asked to provide example text members can use if coming under pressure to sign the company document.
Stress Survey
The company now recognises that mental health issues, including stress, are the single biggest cause of sickness absence.  The Health & Safety Executive’s (HSE) definition of work-related stress is “The adverse reaction people have to excessive pressures or other types of demand placed on them at work”.
Unfortunately the company’s approach is to focus on support for those already suffering mental health problems, rather than complementing this with work to tackle the causes of stress.
UNITE asked the company to work together to apply the HSE stress indicator tool in line with the official recommendations, but the company has refused.  Nonetheless, UNITE is encouraging all Fujitsu staff to complete this short confidential survey on CafeVIK in order to establish an objective view of the organisational causes of stress in Fujitsu.
20 October TUC demonstration
The TUC is organising a major national demonstration against cuts and austerity in London on 20th October.  UNITE is providing free train transport from Greater Manchester to the demonstration – please get in touch if you want to book seats now.
For those (e.g. many students, unemployed people) who don’t have access to union transport such as UNITE’s train, the local TUCs are organising coaches and have launched an appeal to raise £15K to ensure the tickets are affordable.  A collection towards this transport raised £33.40.
There will also be a rally in Greater Manchester on Wednesday 19th September to build for the demonstration – details are on the Manchester TUC web site.

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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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