January 26, 2006

Manchester representation

Our notice on 13th January sought volunteers and nominations for reps, Health & Safety reps and the new positions as Union Learning Reps.

We had one nomination for a rep, Mike Thomas, so he is duly elected, joining Ian Allinson, Dave Francis, Isabel Hay, Lynne Hodge, John Lacey, Sulayman Munir, Zahid Ramzan and Phil Tepper.

We had no further nominations for Health & Safety reps, so the existing team is duly elected:

MAN05: None

MAN33: Mike Bamford, Lynne Hodge, Iswar Mistry

MAN34: Ian Allinson, Alan Child, Kevin M Davies, Andy C Smith, Phil Tepper

MAN35: Dennis Morris, Zahid Ramzan, Colin Robinson (HOM99 based)

We had two nominations for Union Learning Reps, so Aaron Donnelly and Martin York are duly elected.

There are many ways to get involved and help build an effective union - if you are interested in finding out more, please speak to one of the reps.

Posted by at 04:39 PM | Comments (0)

Safety inspections at Central Park

One of the benefits of having union recognition is the right to have Health & Safety Representatives. H&S reps have extensive legal rights and powers and it is well established that workplaces with H&S reps are safer and healthier places to work. Though sites without union recognition have people carrying out a variety of safety roles for the company it is important to understand that they are not H&S reps and don't have the same rights and powers to help you.

One of the key powers of a safety rep is the right to inspect the workplace. The H&S reps carried out their first inspections at Central Park in October. These identified some serious issues, including deliberately blocked fire escapes, which were immediately rectified. There are other issues which remain unresolved.

On 18th January we had eight of our safety reps out inspecting much of Central Park and the reports are published here: List of H&S Inspections

Thanks to all the staff who provided information, queries and comments for the inspections.

Posted by at 04:36 PM | Comments (0)

Manchester Branch Meeting

The next meeting of the Greater Manchester IT Branch will include a speaker and discussion on the "Bolkestein" Directive and all branch members are encouraged to come and join in. The details are:

6pm-7:30pm, Thursday 2nd February

Upstairs, Hare & Hounds pub, Shudehill, Manchester city centre, M4 4AA

[Near the Shudehill Metrolink station and the spiral ramp to the Arndale car park]

Posted by at 12:00 AM | Comments (0)

Battling Bolkestein

No, Bolkestein isn't a character in a movie, it's the nickname for the EU legislation that threatens to import poverty pay and sub-standard terms and conditions into the UK. The central idea of the legislation is to apply the "country of origin" principle to services as well as goods. This means that a company would be bound by the law of the country where it is based, not where it operates. So a company could operate under a "flag of convenience" by basing itself in a country with poor labour and safety protection and provide services employing people in countries across Europe, undercutting locally-based companies by paying their employees less, and saving costs compared to locally-based companies that have to obey the local laws.

Even if levelling down our social, safety and environmental protections to the lowest in the EU seemed like a good idea, one has to wonder how effective the authorities in Poland or Portugal could be at enforcing their own laws in Manchester, for example. It's hard enough trying to get our own laws enforced now - imagine if half the people working on site were employed by sub-contract companies or agencies bound by laws in other countries!

In effect the Bolkestein Directive would do to services that are delivered locally what offshoring is already doing to services that can be delivered remotely. It would accelerate the "race to the bottom" that big business is lobbying for.

The "Services Directive" is often called the "Bolkestein Directive" after its author, former European Union (EU) commissioner Frits Bolkestein, a one time head of Shell Oil and a right wing Dutch politician. The European TUC has said the directive will "speed up deregulation, seriously erode workers' rights and protection, and damage the supply of essential services to European citizens".

Amicus is also calling for temporary agency workers who are among the most vulnerable workers in the economy to be totally excluded from the scope of the directive so the UK can monitor the treatment of these workers. Under the Services Directive it will be almost impossible to monitor temporary workers. For example a temporary worker may be posted from Portugal by a company which is registered in Poland but that worker will be working in the UK.

Frighteningly, the draft directive doesn't even exempt essential services - it doesn't take much imagination to see where that might lead.

Derek Simpson, General Secretary of Amicus, said: "It would be a total disgrace should a Labour Government even contemplate supporting this directive in its current form. They would be a government presiding over the euthanasia of the UK's best jobs and turning us into a third world economy."

The Irish Ferries dispute just before Xmas illustrated many of the issues clearly. When outsourcing work, the employer sought to use migrant labour on appalling pay and conditions. The magnificent response by the Irish labour movement will stand the battle against Bolkestein in good stead. For more information, see:


The European Parliament will be debating and voting on the draft Services Directive on the 14th February and Amicus will be demonstrating outside along with colleagues from unions across the continent.

It is vital that we stop this attack now, rather than trying to cope with the consequences for our jobs and futures later. If you are interested in joining the demonstration at the European Parliament in Strasbourg, please contact us as soon as possible. Following our branch meeting on 12th January we are pleased to report that the union will be able to provide assistance with travel expenses.

For more information, see:

Posted by at 12:00 AM | Comments (0)

Individual cases

Individual advice, support and representation are big benefits of union membership. It's hard for employees to see the value of this - until they need it - because details of individual cases are typically confidential to those concerned.

Thanks to the members concerned for allowing us to circulate these anonymised reports:

  • "I'd arranged an internal move to a different business unit but risked losing this opportunity as there was a deadline and my existing department were taking so long to confirm a release date. When I asked the union to help my rep advised me to write immediately to all concerned to stress my worries over the situation. My rep also spoke to my manager to reinforce the urgency of resolving matters. Within a day my release date was confirmed and I have now moved into my new position. Without the help from my union I'd have remained stressed out and uncertain on how to proceed - I really appreciated their help."
  • Amicus rep and pensions specialist Dave Francis recently helped a member with issues relating to their retirement date. The result was an extra year's salary plus 12% more pension for the rest of his life.

Remember - non-members can't get individual representation from the union, and employees need 6 months membership for access to the free Amicus legal representation. Please encourage your colleagues to join - before it's too late. If you recruit a colleague you could both win prizes - our national recruitment competition is still open:


Posted by at 12:00 AM | Comments (0)

January 20, 2006

Disclosure of pay information

The company has made a second offer in response to the legal case brought by Amicus in Manchester over disclosure of pay data (what most employees call pay scales).

After careful consideration, the Manchester reps committee decided that since the would affect members across the company, they would ask all Amicus members in Fujitsu to vote – no matter where they are based.

You can read the company’s proposal for yourself on the “Amicus The Union” CafeVIK community.

Please read the information below and the proposal before casting your vote. Members had until the end of January to cast your vote.

What is it all about?

One of the advantages of union recognition is that the union has a legal right to information for collective bargaining. In 2005 the company said they would only provide the median figures for Fujitsu pay rates for each Professional Community role to Amicus in Manchester if the union agreed to keep them secret from members.

Amicus asked members in Manchester whether the reps should accept the information on this basis, and the unanimous view was that they should not, and that Amicus should challenge the company stance.

Amicus lodged a claim to the Central Arbitration Committee (CAC), as a result of which further talks took place. The company made an initial offer, which Amicus put to a vote of Manchester members in November. Members were offered the options of Accepting or Rejecting the first offer, or of going back to seek clarification and improvement. The reps made no recommendation. Only three members voted to Accept the first offer, with a small majority instructing the reps to go back and “seek clarification and improvement”.

Your reps duly went back to HR who agreed to clarify a couple of key points so that Amicus could redraft the offer in a way that was more comprehensible. However, the company didn’t do this, but instead sent us an updated offer of their own, without discussion. It is this which Amicus is asking members to vote on. As the company aren’t engaging with Amicus to clarify the offer (despite saying they would), the reps are asking you to make a simple decision this time – ACCEPT or REJECT. Because the new offer deals with issues outside the Manchester bargaining unit, the reps decided to give all Amicus members throughout Fujitsu a vote this time.

What do the reps recommend?

The reps committee is recommending that you REJECT the offer.

The reps recognise that the offer represents a significant positive shift by the company in a number of respects. Some of the points appear to offer significant steps towards an open pay system for employees within the Manchester bargaining unit.

The proposal is another demonstration of the benefits of union recognition and being part of a collective bargaining unit.

After discussing the offer with our legal advisers, we could not recommend acceptance of such a “woolly” offer. The offer is so vague and contradictory that it would be hard to hold the company to anything.

We also think some of the restrictions would be impossible for us to implement even if agreed – leaving your reps open to complaints and victimisation by management.

Reps would need to constantly check up on the location and salary of every member to ensure only those members in the Manchester bargaining unit saw certain information.

  • Amicus would be made responsible for policing its members in the bargaining unit
  • if any member leaked pay data, the union would be held responsible

But our biggest concern is the impact the offer would have on Amicus and its members outside the bargaining unit – the vast majority. The proposed agreement says:

There maybe occasions that members outside of the Bargaining Unit provide or publish pay data information of groups of individuals found or collated from sources other than that provided to reps in Manchester Bargaining Unit. As long as this information is from other sources, and that this can be proved, the Company will not progress any action against AMICUS or individual members.

In other words, if a member on another site provided pay data information they had obtained themselves to another member, the Manchester reps would be held responsible unless they proved where the information had come from. The Manchester reps don’t believe it is part of their role to police the company’s secretive policy across the UK.

In practice, we believe that the offer would prevent Amicus providing information to members across the UK, as the union has recently been able to do.

What next?

If the majority of members vote to accept the offer, Amicus will agree to it and withdraw the claim to the CAC. Your reps would then have to try to work to it.

If the majority of members vote to reject the offer, Amicus will inform the company and continue legal efforts to secure disclosure of pay information without unreasonable restrictions. Naturally reps would continue their efforts to resolve the matter by agreement with the company outside the legal process, but would try to avoid those efforts causing any further delay to the legal process.

Posted by at 12:00 AM | Comments (0)

January 18, 2006

Pay rates in Fujitsu

This newsletter focuses on one issue – pay rates in Fujitsu. Amicus is providing members with pay guideline figures to help you prepare for your pay review.

The company has also made a Second company offer on disclosure of pay information (in response to the legal claim by our Manchester group). This will be put to the vote in the near future.

Employees are crying out for an open, transparent and fair pay system, this has been central to Amicus’s pay campaign in Fujitsu in recent years. Changing the company's policy of denying employees access to the pay guideline figures used by management to determine individual pay is a key component of our efforts.

Amicus has already:

  • Used first national pay campaign to highlight key issues
  • Negotiated better pay deals for those employees covered by Amicus collective bargaining
  • Published results of our pay surveys, along with additional analysis of Fujitsu pay and benefits, on our "Amicus The Union" community on CafeVIK
  • Published the pay scales for helpdesk staff in Manchester and Wakefield on our "Amicus The Union" community on CafeVIK
  • Begun the slow legal process of using the legal rights arising from recognition in Manchester to force the disclosure of the pay guideline figures without the confidentiality restrictions that our members rejected
  • Helped members asking the Information Commissioner to force the company to disclose individuals' pay guideline figures to them - a process which is ongoing
  • Lodged a claim under the TUPE regulations for former Lloyds TSB staff, arising from Fujitsu's refusal to disclose the pay guideline figures for the roles they would be placed on when they joined the company

The union has obtained some of the pay guideline figures unofficially. We know these are not precise, but are confident they are close to the figures the company used for the 2005 pay review outside the helpdesks. To help members make informed career decisions and to have better informed discussions with their line managers for the next cycle of appraisals and pay reviews, Amicus circulated them to members in the original newsletter this news item is based on.

The “median” figure given for each Professional Community role is the median salary of UK Fujitsu Services employees in that role at the time the snapshot was taken (before the April 2005 pay review). The company used this figure, together with a figure 25% below the median, as a guideline for managers in determining individual pay.

Jargon Buster: The "median" means the middle value if all the salaries are placed in order.

For example, if there were nine employees in a role, paid £8K, £9K, £10K, £10K, £13K, £19K, £20K, £20K, £100K - the median would be £13K - the fifth value.

The use of "internal" medians means that the figures reflect what the company already paid people, not any view of what they should be paid or the market rate. We have previously published analysis of how the change from external to internal pay figures for 2004 effectively lowered most of the scales and how the scales changed from 2004 to 2005.

Median salary figures change from year to year for reasons unconnected with the annual pay review. Groups “TUPE transfer” in or out of the company. The company promotes or transfers employees into different roles without giving them pay rises. The company is recruiting externally at the moment, so will have to match market rates to attract candidates.

The median figures for TSS and TSM are distorted by the fact that the pay of helpdesk staff is included in the calculation of the median, even though their pay is managed according to a completely separate set of scales. These “D1-4” scales (which applied to Manchester helpdesks and their counterparts in Wakefield after the April 2005 pay review) were also given in the newsletter. We provide more explanation of these helpdesk D1-4 scales on CafeVIK.

Access to this information from the union is one of the many benefits of union membership - we are not providing this information to non-members, though they are welcome to join. Don’t forget we are running a recruitment competition for Fujitsu employees: www.ourunion.org.uk/competition.

We asked members to refrain from passing the information outside the company.

Posted by at 12:00 AM | Comments (0)

January 13, 2006

Who represents you? (Manchester)

The group is entitled to 11 reps. Currently, due to people leaving the company or the sites, we have only 8 reps for our group. They are:

Ian Allinson, Dave Francis, Isabel Hay, Lynne Hodge, John Lacey, Sulayman Munir, Zahid Ramzan, Phil Tepper

Reps are entitled to work time to carry out their duties, and free training is available. We will be holding a full election at the Annual General Meeting in March, but in the meantime if you would like to volunteer or nominate a colleague to join the team, please let us know.

You are also entitled to Health & Safety reps. The list is currently:

MAN05: None

MAN33: Mike Bamford, Lynne Hodge, Iswar Mistry

MAN34: Ian Allinson, Alan Child, Kevin M Davies, Andy C Smith, Phil Tepper

MAN35: Dennis Morris, Zahid Ramzan, Colin Robinson (HOM99 based)

Health & Safety reps are key to improving your working environment. Our team has already made a real difference at Central Park. Having more H&S reps would help ensure every area is well covered and help us to make faster progress. We will be holding a full election at the Annual General Meeting in March, but in the meantime if you would like to volunteer or nominate a colleague to join the team, please let us know.

As we explained in our notice on 23rd November, we are now introducing Union Learning Reps to specialise in learning issues. Two members have expressed an interest in being elected to this role: Aaron Donnelly and Martin York. If there are any further volunteers or nominations, please let us know within a week. For more information, see the TUC web site.

Posted by IMH at 03:47 PM | Comments (0)

Review of 2005 Manchester pay deal

What was achieved

The 2005 agreement ensured that all employees had some increase in pay, in contrast to the many zero rises elsewhere in the company. It also secured agreement that “where employees change to a job/role which is a promotion, an immediate review should take place with a plan agreed with the individual to include reward and development”.

The 2005 pay agreement delivered increases in the helpdesk (D1-4) pay scales for the first time. The company also agreed that these scales would be based on capability and that work not being available to match an employee’s capability “is not a reason for refusing progression up the levels”.

A number of benefits were improved or extended for various groups of employees, as well as rights to flexible working being positively set out.


The 2005 corporate pay pot did not allow the company room to protect employees’ living standards, address historically low pay levels and reward promotion or good performance. Though the 2005 Manchester pay agreement did allow a little more room by making extra funds available outside the pot, these issues remain to be adequately addressed.

The company’s decision to implement the 2005 pay agreement on a departmental basis, against Amicus advice, led to rewards for people with good PAC ratings being very patchy as well as some managers having little scope for discretion after addressing historical under-payment issues.

Promises the company broke

The company failed to keep its promises to a significant number of employees in terms of the pay review itself and the various benefit reviews that were promised.

Your reps spent considerable time with the company agreeing steps to correct some of these problems. Unfortunately, instead of implementing the jointly identified actions, the company paid an external consultant to tell them they needed to give employees less money than agreed.

Your reps believe there is little point continuing to discuss the matter at this level, but that progress can be made by helping individual members pursue cases where appropriate. Non-members don’t get Amicus representation on individual matters, but are welcome to join.

[In the original notice, Amicus provided information to members to help them work out if they had a case to pursue]

Posted by IA at 01:16 PM | Comments (0)

January 06, 2006

Manchester Branch Meeting

Don’t forget the next meeting of the Greater Manchester IT branch is:

6pm-7:30pm, Thursday 12th January 2006

Upstairs, Hare & Hounds pub, Shudehill, Manchester city centre, M4 4AA

[Near the Shudehill Metrolink station and the spiral ramp to the Arndale car park]

All branch members are encouraged to attend.

As well as the opportunity to discuss workplace issues and other normal union business, the agenda will include the election of our branch delegate to the union’s Regional Women’s Conference and deciding on a motion we would like to send to that conference.

If you would like to be nominated for the conference, nominate someone else or suggest a motion, please get in touch (and come along!).

Posted by IMH at 03:43 PM | Comments (0)