Striking staff set to settle with HP, says union

HP and IT staff contracted out to the Department for Work and Pensions are close to an agreement in a long-running dispute over pay and job security
Written by Richard Thurston, Contributor

IT services contractors are close to reaching a settlement with their employer HP in a dispute over pay and job security, according to the employees' union.

The Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS) — representing HP Enterprises Services staff working in-house at the Department for Work and Pensions and the Ministry of Defence — said on Friday they had "pretty much" come to an agreement.

Last month, the Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS) said it would go ahead with a pair of two-day strikes voted by members unless a deal could be struck. The union suspended the strikes, scheduled for March and April, on 29 March to allow time for extra talks. Those talks appear to have reached a conclusion.

"They [PCS negotiators] have pretty much reached a settlement," a spokesman for the union told ZDNet UK. Negotiations will be completed "quite soon", he said, but declined to specify a timescale.

He added that the PCS had achieved the workers' fundamental requirements from the discussions, after the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (Acas) became involved.

"It could be quite a good deal for our members at HP," the spokesman said. "They've had a bit of a crap time since it was taken over."

In 2008, HP acquired EDS and rebranded the computer services provider as HP Enterprise Services. The dispute there kicked off after HP announced thousands of job cuts and introduced a pay freeze. It involved engineers and other IT services employees at the firm's Enterprise Services arm.

HP had won a massive outsourced desktop contract worth up to £675m (£440m) at the Department for Work and Pensions. However, the DWP revealed in January that HP will be dropped from that contract at the end of August.

For the MoD, HP Enterprise Services won an $890m communications contract in January as part of a consortium. The contract has a large desktop element and will largely support the Royal Air Force.

Earlier this year, HP resolved a similar dispute with the Unite union. It faced a strike by engineers and support specialists who were concerned about reductions in salary and pensions benefits after being transferred between divisions of HP.

At the time of writing, HP offered no comment on the resolution of the PCS negotiations.

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