The UK's largest union has announced the dates for a stoppage by Fujitsu Services staff, in what it is calling the first ever national strike at a British IT company.
Unite's 1,500 members at Fujitsu Services are being called out for a one-day strike on 18 December, the union said in a statement on Friday. The action will continue in the New Year with two-day strikes on 7-8 and 14-15 January, and another one-day stoppage on 11 January.
The strike action has arisen from the company's plans to close contributions to its final salary pension scheme. Unite members are also reacting to a proposed pay freeze and plans to make 1,200 Fujitsu Services employees redundant. On December 18, the union plans to mark the strike with a protest outside Fujitsu's London headquarters.
Unite originally called strike action in November, but this was withdrawn when Fujitsu agreed to talks and to relax deadlines on jobs and pensions. The talks, however, did not result in an offer that was satisfactory to 83 percent of Unite members at Fujitsu, according to the union.
It is not clear how many of Unite's membership will participate in the stoppage, as there is no requirement for individual staff members to give notification of strike action. Out of 11,500 Fujitsu UK employees, 1,500 are members of Unite.
Derek Simpson, Unite's joint general secretary, said in the statement that the strike will have an effect on Fujitsu customers. Fujitsu has major UK customers in the public and private sectors, including the Ministry of Defence, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, and the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills.
"Whilst we remain ready and willing to talk at any time, this further rejection of the company's position leaves no doubt — our members saying enough is enough," said Simpson. "We recognise the effect any industrial action will have on key private and public sector customers and clients of Fujitsu, but the responsibility for this rests squarely with the company for failing to address the issues."
However, a Fujitsu spokesperson said on Monday that the company did not expect any significant disruption to its services.
"We will make sure employees are devoted to business-specific activities and will reorganise workload to ensure that services don't suffer," said the spokesperson. "We are confident that customers will not notice a decreased service."
Workers will be diverted away from non-essential maintenance work and regular systems checks to provide cover for striking staff, the spokesperson said. However, the spokesperson added that the amount of reorganisation necessary will depend on how many Unite members go on strike.