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Fujitsu IT staff vote in favour of strike

Staff at the multinational IT services and systems provider have voted in favour of industrial action over proposed cuts to jobs and pensions
Written by Carly Newman, Contributor

Employees at Fujitsu Services have voted in favour of taking industrial action against proposed cuts to jobs and pensions.

The results of the strike ballot, which began on 12 October, were announced by Unite on Monday. The union polled its more than 1,500 members at the IT services company around Britain. A majority of 74 percent voted for strike action, and 92 percent were in favour of industrial action short of a strike.

Unite national officer Peter Skyte told ZDNet UK on Monday that the union was surprised by the size of the response. "We were expecting a majority in favour, but we were surprised by the size of the majority," said Skyte. "The result was a lot stronger than we expected, and I think that in itself illustrates the depth of feeling that people have — they feel that enough's enough."

Unite senior representatives in Fujitsu are due to meet on Monday to determine what course of action will take place. Unite are obligated to serve seven days' notice of any industrial action to Fujitsu, but Skyte added that any action was likely to take place quickly.

The union said in October that Fujitsu's plans to close the company's main defined pension scheme to further accrual could affect around 4,000 employees, whose total pay packages could be reduced by around 20 percent as a result of the changes. Unite also said Fujitsu was planning to force through the changes by dismissing employees at the end of the consultation period in November, and offering them new contracts which do not include the pension scheme.

Fujitsu said in a statement on Monday that it was unable to comment on the results of the ballot. "As the company is still in consultations regarding the pension scheme and the proposed reductions in headcount it is premature to make any comment at this stage," it said.

At the start of the ballot in October, Fujitsu spokesman Graham Goulden said the company would take measures to minimise the impact on its services in the event of a strike.

In addition, the Public and Commercial Services Union, which represents 850 members at Fujitsu, told ZDNet UK on Monday that 68 percent of its members voted to strike, and 85 percent voted in favour of industrial action short of strike. A PCS spokesperson said the union will liaise with Unite about its plans and will possibly co-ordinate industrial action between the two.

Fujitsu imposed a company-wide pay freeze earlier this year, and on 26 August announced it planned to make 1,200 of its British workforce redundant by the end of 2009, saying the layoffs were prompted by a difficult economic environment.

The multinational IT services and systems provider, which employs around 12,500 people in sites around the UK, announced in October that it had beaten its earnings target for the first half of the year, despite a challenging business environment.

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