Fujitsu UK strikes on hold after government intervenes

(This story first appeared on the Computerworld UK site.)

LONDON - Planned strikes by hundreds of staff at Fujitsu Services have been suspended after an intervention by a group of MPs including a health minister.

Fujitsu Services is one of the lead contractors for the NHS's £12.4 billion (US$24 billion) National Programme for IT.

Members of the Amicus trade union at Fujitsu's Manchester office, which handles a number of government contracts, have already staged several days of strikes in a dispute over pay, redundancies and trade union rights.

But the staff have put the action on hold after the Manchester MPs, led by Labour's Tony Lloyd, wrote to the firm's chief executive David Courtly raising concerns on their behalf.

The letter, signed by five MPs including Ivan Lewis, the minister for care services at the Department of Health, says: "Given the concerns of our constituents and the fact that Fujitsu is a major supplier of IT services to the government, we are keen to see a swift resolution to the dispute."

The MPs are seeking an urgent meeting with Fujitsu, a senior Amicus official and members of both negotiating teams, "to see if we can broker proper dialogue and help to resolve this situation", the letter says. It adds: "A number of us had been seeking a debate in parliament about the dispute. We now intend to refrain from doing so for the time being to allow a window of opportunity for the meeting to find a mutually acceptable resolution to the dispute."

Problems at Fujitsu Services were revealed to lie behind forecast £1.2 billion losses at parent company Fujitsu earlier this week.

Meanwhile, IT staff at Capgemini who work on the huge Aspire contract with HM Revenue and Customs have voted to strike in support of their claim for a better pay offer.

A strike ballot involving around 350 members of the Public and Commercial Services (PCS) union saw nearly three-quarters vote to strike, with 87% voting for action short of a strike.

The union is expected to announce strike dates in the near future.

Chris Morrison, chair of the union's Capgemini national shop stewards committee, said: "The fantastic turnout and overwhelming vote in favor of industrial action illustrates just how angry staff are at a pay offer that for the majority fails to keep up with inflation.

"With Capgemini set to make £50 million from the contract, staff view this pay offer as a slap in the face. If management want to avoid industrial action then they need to reward staff with a decent pay rise."

Copyright © 2007 IDG Communications, Inc.

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