Striking Fujitsu Services staff return to work

Union suspends industrial action following intervention by MPs

Staff at Fujitsu Services in Manchester have called off their strike following the intervention of a group of local MPs.

The five MPs — Tony Lloyd, Graham Stringer, David Crausby, Ivan Lewis and Helen Southworth — wrote to the company a week ago requesting an urgent meeting involving "senior officers from Amicus, and members of both negotiating teams" to try to "broker proper dialogue and help to resolve this situation".

Press reports on Monday suggested that the Fujitsu management had decided that, with the cancellation of the one-day strike, it could "move ahead with negotiations". But if they did, it came as news to staff at Fujitsu Services. "We haven't been told anything by the company," Ian Allinson, the union representative at Fujitsu Services, told ZDNet UK. "As far as we are concerned, we voted to stop the action for the moment while we wait and see what the company does next."

Allinson said he was hopeful that the intervention by the MPs had persuaded the company to return to negotiations, but was sceptical that the action would end soon. "The company has a track record of dragging its feet and time-wasting," he said.

In addition to the one-day strike, the union had a three-day strike planned to begin on 28 March.

The dispute between Fujitsu Services management and staff has been running since the end of 2006. The facility is responsible for outsourcing services for a number of organisations, including Marks & Spencer and the Home Office. Staff at the plant have previously held a number of one-day actions, as well as a five-day strike in January.

The dispute revolves around redundancy rights, better pay and union recognition. The union says it had agreed to shift its stance on one of these issues in an effort to resolve the dispute, but the effort was unsuccessful.

"We remain willing to talk at any time," said Allinson. "For now, we just have to wait and see what the company says."

A spokesperson for Fujitsu Services said it "welcomed the fact that the union had stopped its strike action and the opportunity to go back to negotiations".