HP strike 1: EDS staff vote for walkout next week

HP Enterprise Services staff, formerly employed by EDS, have voted to strike next Thursday (10 December) in what has become an angry dispute over pay and jobs.

On a dark day for HP, services engineers in another part of the company's UK operations also scheduled 10 days' worth of strikes, over the next three months.

In the HP-EDS staff dispute, up to 1,000 employees are expected to strike in different locations, including Newcastle, Washington, Preston and the Fylde Coast. They work on IT contracts at the Department for Work and Pensions.

Eight in 10 of the staff represented by the PCS union voted to strike and ninety-two percent supported other industrial action. Unionised staff will not work overtime from Tuesday onwards.

Their complaint centres on pay freezes imposed for this and next year. Additionally, 3,400 EDS staff have been made redundant since HP took over the company in 2008, and a further 1,000 job losses are planned for the first half of next year.

HP told its customers that it only expected the strike to have a "minimal" effect on service. "In cooperation with our clients and the involvement of our company-wide global delivery capabilities, we will take the necessary measures to deliver the services that our clients require," a spokesperson said.

The supplier said it "respects" the decision by the staff to strike, adding that it will attempt to avoid the strike by engaging in further dialogue.

Mark Serwotka, PCS general secretary, said the workers were angry at HP's employment stance. "It is disgraceful that hard-working staff who are shouldering greater workloads and contributing significantly to HP’s revenue and profits should be rewarded with pay freezes and job losses.”

The ballot showed the “depth of anger” in the workforce, he said."Management cannot continue to take staff for granted, and need to start rewarding staff properly and give them guarantees over job security."

HP is facing industrial action from other parts of its UK operations. One hundred and fifty HP services engineers have voted to strike over pay and benefits. According to trade union Unite, they are losing a £2,000 performance bonus scheme and a final salary pension.

Copyright © 2009 IDG Communications, Inc.

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