Fujitsu averts strike at the eleventh hour

Fujitsu employees have cancelled a three-day strike that was due to start today, after the company agreed to extend talks over pensions and to delay compulsory redundancies.

Trade union Unite and Fujitsu agreed that talks over pensions would continue until 31 January. Additionally, the company will delay any compulsory redundancies until the same date, with notice to be given to any affected employees on 11 December.

Nevertheless, Unite is still entitled to call industrial action if it is disappointed in discussions, after the two parties agreed that the timescale for making such a move would be extended for an undisclosed period, following a recent ballot in support of such a move.

The workers' complaint centres around the company’s plans to close its defined benefit pension plan to future accruals. Such a move would affect 4,000 UK employees, Unite said, and effectively reduce their pay package by an average of 20 percent.

“The company intends to force this through by dismissing employees after the end of the consultation period in November, and offering them employment on new contracts which are unchanged except in relation to pensions,” the union previously said in a statement.

Fujitsu announced 1,200 redundancies in August, and also has an ongoing pay freeze. But Unite has said that in total 6,000 staff – nearly half of Fujitsu’s UK workforce – were “at risk” of losing their jobs as the consultation progresses and decisions are taken.

According to Fujitsu, some 770 staff from the 1,200 initially targeted redundancies have taken compulsory redundancy so far.

Fujitsu’s main sites are at Bracknell, Stevenage, Manchester, Crewe, Belfast, Staines, Basingstoke, Wakefield, Sheffield, Solihull, Slough, Lewes, Warrington, Cardiff, Bristol, Newcastle and London.

Unite said yesterday’s talks that averted the strike had been “constructive” and that the ongoing discussions were aimed at “agreeing a resolution by Christmas 2009 or agreeing a way to continue dialogue”.

A spokesperson at Fujitsu said the company was “pleased” the strike had been avoided, adding that it hopes “our further discussions will resolve the situation”.

Copyright © 2009 IDG Communications, Inc.

Shop Tech Products at Amazon