Information & Consultation in Fujitsu – Your Forum
Fujitsu have begun the process to hold elections to the new information and consultation body that will replace Fujitsu Voice. They are calling this body “Your Forum”.
WHY HAVE AN INFORMATION & CONSULTATION BODY?
As individual employees we have little influence over management decisions that affect us on a daily basis and what they choose to tell us about what’s happening in the company.
An information and consultation body gives employees the ability to engage with management collectively and gives you the right to:
- Be consulted about some of the changes management propose that affect you BEFORE a final decision is made
- Information about the state of the Fujitsu and the future direction of the business
This is especially useful for employees who are not covered by collective bargaining through a trade union. Employees who are covered by collective bargaining also benefit from access to greater levels of information which is useful in negotiations.
WHY VOTE FOR UNION-BACKED CANDIDATES?
As an employee, having rights to be informed and consulted are only useful if your representatives know how to use those rights effectively and have access to external help should something go wrong.
What would happen if the company failed to consult employees and a legal claim was required? What if information is declared confidential, how would your reps know if this was reasonable or not?
To make the new Information & Consultation body truly “Your Forum”, employees need representatives who are committed to independent employee representation rather than seeing the new body as an opportunity for career advancement.
Union members who get elected as employee representatives have access to:
- Independent training, advice and support
- Free legal representation should the company fail to inform and consult constituents in line with the regulations
- Independent means of communication with employees, vital if the company continues blocking access to email distribution lists
This is especially important as the new body will be operating under the Standard Provisions (legal default) which are more legalistic than negotiated agreements like Fujitsu Voice.
Having employee reps who are union members also makes it harder for the company to play Your Forum and the unions off against each other.
WHO DO THE UNIONS RECOMMEND WE VOTE FOR?
Unite has worked together with the PCS union, which also has members in Fujitsu, to identify candidates who can attract wide support from employees. They are a mix in terms of role, seniority, geography, gender etc., and are all committed to make Your Forum as effective as possible.
Unite is encouraging employees to vote for the following candidates, in the order shown. The list will be updated as more candidates are confirmed – if you want to stand please get in touch.
|Constituency||Staff||No. of Reps||Candidates identified|
|BAS – Application Transformation||245||1||Joe Harrison
|BAS – Enterprise Applications||246||1||1. Adam Leonard|
|BAS – Other||399||1||TBC|
|C&C and Legal & Commercial||221||1||1. Jonathan Jenner
2. Chris Pratt
|Enterprise & Cyber Security||220||1||TBC|
|EPS||174||1||1. Sarah Skelding
2. Andy Taylor
|Finance||203||1||1. Andy Slater|
|Marketing, Global and Other||252||1||1. Mike Efstathiou|
|MIS – CSM||480||1||Matt Whaley
Daniel Burrows(order TBC)
|MIS – Hybrid IT||442||1||1. Eoin Byrne
2. Arthur Spence
3. Nick Parlow
4. Frank Gawthorpe
|MIS – N&T||418||1||TBC|
|MIS – Program & Project Services||604||2||1. John Garvani
2. Stephen Lowe
3. Ian Allinson
|MIS – Service Desks and Other||319||1||TBC|
|MIS – TMS||646||2||1. Colin Wray|
|Operations||578||2||1. Pauline Bradburn
2. Carl Langley
3. Patricia Stevens
4. Sarah English
|Products||262||1||1. Lewin Cox|
The PCS union is also encouraging employees to vote for the same candidates, but in a slightly different order.
Please put the union-backed candidate(s) top of your list in the recommended order, then vote for as many or few of the other candidates as you want.
Voting for other candidates after your top preferences is a good idea. It does not reduce the chances of success for your top choices.
HOW DO THE ELECTIONS WORK?
Nominations close at 5pm on Monday 27 November 2017. Voting will be Tuesday 12 December until Thursday, 11 January 2018. We anticipate the first meeting with the elected reps will take place in January 2018.
When voting opens, please vote as soon as you can, to avoid misplacing the official details you need to cast your vote.
The election is by Single Transferable Vote (STV) – see http://www.electoral-reform.org.uk/single-transferable-vote if you want to know more.
The key thing is that you have to place the candidates in order of preference, with 1 or top being your favourite.
WHY WE’RE HAVING THESE ELECTIONS?
In mid-2016 the company unilaterally gave 6 months’ notice of terminating Fujitsu Voice, the Information & Consultation (I&C) body that had been in place nearly 6 years.
The company claimed that Fujitsu Voice wasn’t working but refused to tell employees what the issues were. They also claimed that there wouldn’t be any gap between the end of Fujitsu Voice and the new body they wanted to create.
It is now late 2017 and the company is only just starting the elections for the new body, so it won’t be in place until January 2018. This means that there will have been a 12-month gap without a consultation body, contrary to what the company said in 2016.
SPECIAL NEGOTIATING BODY
In March 2017 the company held elections for employee reps to sit on a Special Negotiating Body (SNB) along with company reps that would come up with a constitution for a new Information & Consultation body.
The SNB held discussion for around 3 months but failed to reach agreement on a number of points, the main one being the ability of employee reps to be able to freely communicate with their constituents.
As the company failed to reach agreement on a constitution for a new body with the SNB employee reps, what are called the Standard Provisions (the legal default) come into force.
The Standard Provisions require that for a company of Fujitsu’s size, there must be 25 employee reps but allow the company to determine what the constituencies will be.
The company-imposed constituencies for the new body are based on business lines despite concerns being raised by the SNB, and employees who responded to a survey from the SNB Reps indicating they did not want this constituency model.
The Standard Provisions also dictate the topics that are covered by the I&C body. These will not be as comprehensive as they were with Fujitsu Voice and there will be no “Managing Collective Redundancy Framework” agreement that union members on Fujitsu Voice negotiated and employees voted overwhelmingly to keep.
HOW IMPORTANT IS “YOUR FORUM”?
An Information & Consultation body has an important remit. It must be consulted over a wide range of issues including:
- Changes to employment contracts, terms and conditions and working practices including where jobs and roles are located.
- Redundancies and TUPE transfers
- Company strategy including mergers, acquisitions and divestments
- Changes to Company policies (such as early retirement and flexible working
- Training and Development
- Organisational changes (e.g. Agenda 2020)
Because the Standard Provisions only provide a high level description of topics covered, it is possible for employees’ reps to argue that most management proposals are in scope.
For the vast majority of employees (who aren’t yet covered by union recognition), “Your Forum” will be the primary formal channel to raise and address issues of concern other than raising an individual grievance.
It won’t change the way Fujitsu works overnight. However, the unions and other employee forums have been building up pressure for less secrecy, and for more democracy and accountability at work. Making “Your Forum” as effective as possible is another step along this road. We need a strong team of reps to ensure this opportunity isn’t wasted.
No matter how good our reps are, there will still be limits to what the new body can do for staff and the company. It will be a body for “Information and Consultation of Employees”.
The new body cannot:
- Take decisions instead of the senior management team
- Negotiate with the company to reach agreements on behalf of employees
- Provide representation for employees over individual issues
- Replace the normal communication channels in the company
- Consult about pay and benefits (previously covered by Fujitsu Voice)
UNITE is supporting this new I&C body because such bodies help every employee to have a say over issues affecting their future. But for employees to have a strong collective voice, we need more than information and consultation. We also need strong trade unions providing independent advice, organisation, negotiation, and campaigning.
Information and consultation forums can be useful, but they don’t remove the need for effective trade union organisation. This is especially important since the new body does not restore all of the rights employees previously enjoyed under Fujitsu Voice.
Please join UNITE if you’re not a member yet. You can also sign the petition for union recognition and collective bargaining even if you aren’t a member.