May 28, 2009

Manchester Branch Meeting

The next meeting of UNITE’s Greater Manchester IT branch is:

5:30-7pm, Thursday 4th June
Conference room 34GCR2, MAN34

All branch members are encouraged to attend.

Posted by IMH at 09:28 PM | Comments (0)

Love Music Hate Racism

n the European elections taking place next Thursday (4th June) there is a serious risk that you will find yourself represented by the BNP. Winning seats in the European Parliament would give them access to millions of pounds of our money, as well as increased access to the mainstream media. Wherever the BNP have won elections in the past there has been a sharp rise in racist attacks. Let’s also remember that trade unionists were amongst Hitler’s first targets when he took power in the 1930s.

The risk arises because the European elections are conducted on a proportional representation basis with multi-seat constituencies. A low turnout makes it easier for the BNP to get a high enough proportion of the votes to win a seat. In the north-west they could win a seat with only around 8% of the vote.

If you don’t vote on June 4th, you could find yourself represented by the BNP. While politicians are not flavour of the month, please vote. Hold your nose if you have to. A list of all the candidates is on the BBC web site.

Love Music Hate Racism, the successor to Rock Against Racism, is organising a major festival on Saturday (30th May) in Stoke City football ground. Tickets are only £10. See the web site for full details and booking information.

The line-up includes Pete Doherty, Kelly Rowland, Reverend and the Makers, Kano, The Beautiful South, Get Cape Wear Cape Fly and friends, Chipmunk, Ironik, Mutya Buena, Jerry Dammers, VV Brown, Helsinki, The Beat, Beverley Knight, Bashy, Roll Deep, Kid British, Kieran Leonard, DJ Rugrat, Pariz 1, Skint ‘n’ Demorolized, The Sport and The Fears.

There will be transport from all over the country.

Apologies that we are advertising this so late – your reps had been discussing with the company whether this was something UNITE and Fujitsu could jointly promote. Unfortunately, the company has decided not to do so.

Posted by IMH at 09:27 PM | Comments (0)

May 22, 2009

Manchester: Metrolink Plans

From the GMPTE site:

Construction work to start on new Metrolink line
Published on Friday, 22 May 2009

The first stages of work to build the new Metrolink line to Central Park will get underway next month.

GMPTE is overseeing the construction of the new tram line along the disused railway from Smedley Viaduct to Central Park and eventually on to Oldham and Rochdale.

MPact-Thales, the consortium appointed to design, build and maintain the new lines, has already cleared the route and will start to install drainage in June. Once complete, work on the foundations for the new tram stops can begin.

Work will also have to be done to some of the bridges along the route.

People will be able to find out more about the project from Metrolink officials at a drop-in session at St Augustine's School, Monsall, on Monday 8 June, from 5.30pm to 7.30pm.

Philip Purdy, GMPTE's Metrolink Director, said: "We've already done a lot of work to get us to this point but people are going to see a lot more activity in the area over the next few months.

"It's an exciting development and one that I am sure is going to generate a lot of local interest, so I'd encourage people to go along to the information events that we'll be holding throughout the project and speak to the team to find out more."

The project is part of a wider £600 million scheme that will take Metrolink to Droylsden in East Manchester, Chorlton in South Manchester and MediaCityUK in Salford.

Trams will start running from Manchester to new stops at Monsall and Central Park from spring 2011, then Oldham Mumps from autumn 2011 and finally Rochdale from spring 2012.

To find out more about the project, call the Metrolink public liaison team on 0161 244 1555 (open during office hours), or visit

Posted by IMH at 02:46 PM | Comments (0)

May 21, 2009

Pay Freeze, Pensions – ENOUGH IS ENOUGH!

Updates on Pay

Earlier this week, our Manchester group reported the company’s continued refusal to honour their pay agreement. This means that UNITE can continue campaigning against the pay freeze on a national basis.

The UK Consultative Forum (UKCF) Pay and Benefits subgroup has published its May 2009 report.

Pensions Update

UNITE is working with the members of the ICL Pension Members’ Committee (IPMC) to scrutinise the company’s proposal to close the ICL Defined Benefit pension scheme.

UNITE and the IPMC are working together on communications to members of the pension plan to deal with the technical aspects of the consultation process, so that messages are as consistent and accurate as possible. The first of these communications should be issued in the next week or so.

It is important to stress that the company proposal is just that – a proposal. We must aim to get the company to withdraw or change it. We have some time to do this – even if the proposal went ahead unchanged, nobody would be affected until at least mid-November.

The company has not provided a convincing explanation of the reasoning behind the proposal. The material provided lacked detail and included significant mistakes. It appeared more like a hastily concocted justification for a proposal, rather than the product of a careful analysis of the state of the pension fund.

It is interesting to note that the three-yearly actuarial valuation of the pension fund began on 31st March and that the company proposes to finalise the changes long before the valuation is complete.

The impression that the proposal is a hasty attempt to take advantage of the current economic situation is reinforced by an article Richard Christou wrote on pensions just last year that “I personally believe that a snapshot on a single day, based on clearly defined criteria, is not the best way to analyse your liabilities” and that “there is no need for nightmares”.

Whatever the reasons for the proposal, there can be no doubt how serious it would be for pension scheme members. A reasonable estimate is that the proposal is roughly equivalent to a 20% pay cut (or about £6000 a year for someone on a £30K salary). The costs to the company of continuing to provide the current benefits through the ICL DB pension scheme are probably far less.

[This estimate is based on the figures from 2008 pension choices to assess how much extra pay an employee moving from the ICL DB scheme to the Fujitsu UK scheme would need to buy back the equivalent pension provision. The actual figure would vary with age and other factors.]

How would you react if the company proposed a 20% pay cut?

Enough Is Enough

Fujitsu appears to be going on the rampage, trying to take advantage of the recession to ram through changes to inflate profits at our expense. The pay freeze and the attack on pensions are (so far) the biggest of these attacks, which seem to be coming month after month.

Fujitsu tries to claim that it is responding to competitive pressure. In reality, Fujitsu is leading the way in attacking its workforce. Another profitable major IT company said it had decided on a pay freeze in response to Fujitsu announcing ours. As the Financial Times reports, Fujitsu is the first major company in nearly two years to try to close its defined benefit pension scheme. If we let Fujitsu get away with this, others will follow suit and the company will be back demanding more “competitive” cuts in our pay and conditions. This “race to the bottom” has to stop.

While Fujitsu’s profits have been high, the company is worried about a reduced “win rate” on new bids. But the fall in win-rate is not caused by a sudden surge in employee costs. In reality, the “cure” the company proposes – freezing pay and slashing benefits – is likely to make the problem worse. Is our win rate likely to go up if morale plummets and a significant layer of experienced staff at all levels of the company decide to leave? We have to protect the company by preventing bad senior management decisions doing further damage.

We have to say “enough is enough”.


UNITE reps and officers have been discussing how we can counter the company’s attacks on our pay and conditions.

In parallel with consultation and negotiations, we will clearly need an effective campaign to persuade the company to change its approach.

The issues we face are big. No individual can hope to shift the company on pay or pensions on their own. A national campaign involving staff across the UK has a better chance of success than any site on its own. UNITE also continues to work closely with our colleagues in the PCS union.

Different people are affected by the attacks in different ways, so a campaign addressing the pay and pension issues seems most likely to unite the workforce and apply enough pressure to win.

Whatever tactics are used during the campaign, whether they are based on the law, publicity or industrial action, they will require coordination for maximum effect. That requires organisation. Union organisation.

The current intention is that during the pension consultation period, UNITE will conduct a consultative ballot of its members across the UK, to gauge support for industrial action to stop the company’s attacks. If the ballot showed widespread support for action, but members felt that the issues were not satisfactorily resolved, a formal ballot on industrial action would be held around the end of the pension consultation period.

The consultative ballot could send a powerful message to the company about the level of opposition to their attacks, and maximise the chances of resolving the issues without the need for industrial action.

By law, only union members can vote in industrial action ballots. To send the strongest possible message to the company in the consultative ballot, we need as many people as possible to join the union in time to vote. A number of members forwarded our initial notice to colleagues, in many cases with very powerful heartfelt personal comments about the situation. This has contributed to many more employees joining the union, but we are still just scratching the surface. Time is of the essence. Who can you ask to join? To state the obvious, if every member recruited one colleague, membership would double.

The union’s strength and effectiveness doesn’t just depend on the size of its membership – the level of involvement of members is crucial too – see below for some ideas for steps every member can take to make a difference.

To run a national campaign we need as many reps, contacts and activists as possible, across all the sites. This provides a channel for members to get guidance and to feed in their views, as well as being vital for the campaign itself – distributing information and getting other employees involved.

What you can do

* UNITE is looking at the feasibility of running a weekend training and campaign planning event for all members in Fujitsu who want to get involved in the campaign. Please get in touch if you would be willing to contribute your time if the union covered the costs.
* Can you volunteer to be a union rep or contact for your location?
* Can you talk to a colleague about the issues?
* Can you pass on this email to a few colleagues who might be interested (see below)?
* Can you ask a colleague to join the union?

Posted by IMH at 05:26 PM | Comments (0)

Pass It On

If you know a few Fujitsu friends or colleagues who aren’t in the union yet but you think might be interested, why not pass this email on to them?

If you’re one of those friends or colleagues, and are interested in finding out more about UNITE in Fujitsu, you can leave your details here:

Of course if you want to get involved in the campaign, please join UNITE.

Posted by IMH at 05:15 PM | Comments (0)

May 20, 2009

Manchester Extraordinary General Meeting

There will be an Extraordinary General Meeting (EGM) for all UNITE members in the Manchester bargaining unit:

2pm-4pm, Wednesday 3rd June
MAN35 canteen

This is a crucially important meeting, which will focus on the two key issues of the pay freeze and the attack on pensions. Please do your utmost to attend and have your say on key decisions for your future.

Members are entitled to attend the meeting in work time. If your manager might need to arrange cover for you while you are away from your job, please confirm your release with your manager as soon as possible. If you have any difficulty arranging release, please contact your rep straight away – if you leave it till the last minute, your reps may be unable to help.


If you have any other items for the agenda, please let your reps know as soon as possible and in good time before the meeting so that the EGM can be properly organised.


As well as dealing with the pressing issues, a General Meeting is an opportunity to elect new reps to join our existing team (see footer).

The EGM could elect:

* Workplace Representatives: who deal with most of our individual and collective issues. Workplace Reps are recognised by the law and by Fujitsu and get work time off for training and to carry out their duties. We are entitled to have up to 11 Workplace Reps, but can also have deputies. We currently have 11 reps and one deputy, so anyone standing would be a deputy for the time being.
* Health & Safety Representatives: who specialise in issues affecting our health, safety and welfare. H&S Reps are recognised by the law and by Fujitsu and get work time off for training and to carry out their duties. We currently have nine H&S Reps (plus four who are also Environmental Reps) but could do with more from different areas around the site.
* Union Learning Representatives: who specialise in learning, skills and development issues. Learning Reps are recognised by the law any by Fujitsu and get work time off for training and to carry out their duties. We currently have six Union Learning Reps but the company and the union are committed to increasing this if possible.
* Equality Representatives: who specialise in equality issues. This is a relatively new role and Equality Reps are not yet recognised by the law or the company, but Fujitsu has committed to discussing their introduction with UNITE. If you want to stand as an Equality Rep it may be worth considering standing as a Workplace Rep as well so that you are recognised in the meantime. We currently have two Equality Reps but would welcome more.
* Environmental Representatives: who specialise in environmental issues. This is a relatively new role and Environmental Reps are not yet recognised by the law or the company. If you want to stand as an Environmental Rep is may be worth considering standing as a Health & Safety Rep as well so that you are recognised in the meantime. We currently have four Environmental Reps but would welcome more.

All these reps form the reps committee overseeing the work of the group, so it is important you have confidence in all the representatives you elect.

If you wish to volunteer or nominate someone else, please do so by Monday 1st June:

1) The member making the nomination needs to send us an email saying who they are nominating and for which position(s) (i.e. Workplace Rep, Health & Safety Rep, Union Learning Rep, Equality Rep or Environmental Rep).

2) The nominee / volunteer needs to send an email including some information:

a) Which position(s) they are standing for (i.e. Workplace Rep, Health & Safety Rep, Union Learning Rep, Equality Rep or Environmental Rep)
b) Name
c) Work phone numbers - internal & external
d) Site and area (e.g. MAN35-2-East)
e) Department (e.g. Sirius)
f) Optionally, a statement of NO MORE THAN 100 WORDS which would encourage people to vote for you. [Previous examples are available on request]

Note that only UNITE members in scope of the Manchester agreements can stand in these elections. Of course, members elsewhere can hold their own meetings to elect representatives.

Posted by IMH at 05:07 PM | Comments (0)

Pay & Pensions (Manchester)

Whether or not employees can secure a satisfactory outcome on pay & pensions will depend on the strength of union organisation. Lots of people are joining UNITE at the moment – have you asked anyone to join yet?

Manchester Pay

Further discussions have been taking place between UNITE and the company about the impact of the pay freeze on the Manchester bargaining unit.

At the last talks with the company and ACAS, on 30th April, the company had promised more information and a review of the situation, as outlined in the joint statement on 5th May.

The company failed to provide the financial information as promised, though a little has been provided since then. The company did respond, following their review, on the issue of the pay freeze itself. You can read the correspondence for yourself.

In summary, the company does not accept that the fact that it had reached a pay agreement for Manchester (shortly before announcing the pay freeze) makes the bargaining unit a “special case”.

UNITE met with the company and ACAS again on Monday. The company, UNITE and ACAS all felt that further discussion was unlikely to produce any change to the company position. UNITE agreed to give a full report to the EGM, where members will be able to decide on next steps. Any further meetings with the company and ACAS would be after this.

Throughout the process, our Manchester reps have been working with colleagues in UNITE and PCS across the UK to oppose the pay freeze.


UNITE reps joined ICL Pension Members Committee (IPMC) members at the meeting on Friday with the company to discuss their proposal to close the ICL Defined Benefit pension plan.

The company proposes a consultation period of at least 90-days from 15th May. At the end of the consultation period, if the proposal went ahead unchanged, the company would give notice (of between 13-52 weeks, depending on individual contracts) to plan members of the company’s intention to dismiss them and re-employ them on new contracts with different pension arrangements. Individuals would automatically become deferred members of the ICL Defined Benefit pension plan, though they could (if eligible) choose to draw their pension.

No change affecting individuals could take place until at least mid-November.

UNITE and the IPMC intend to make further communications over the next week or so. Please bear with your reps, as it is important the communications are as clear and accurate as possible on such a contentious and complex issue.

UNITE reps will also be reporting to members on pensions at the EGM.

Posted by IMH at 05:05 PM | Comments (0)

Reviewed Manchester Agreements Approved

Thanks to all the members in the Manchester bargaining unit who voted on the proposed updated agreements (password “draftonly”).

The result is a resounding 100% in favour of acceptance, and we have now notified the company of this result. We have also pointed out a minor error in one of the documents, which we expect to be able to correct at the same time as producing the clean copies for signature.

Your reps regard these agreements as a further improvement on the deal struck at the end of our dispute in 2007.

Posted by IMH at 05:01 PM | Comments (0)

May 18, 2009

Pensions Under Attack - Media Interest - Updated

News of the company's proposal to close the ICL defined benefit pension plan has sparked interest in the media. Publications who have so far covered the story are (in no particular order):

Posted by IMH at 10:00 AM | Comments (0)

May 14, 2009

Pensions Under Attack

Today employees who are in the ICL Defined Benefit pension plan have begun receiving letters from the company informing them that the company proposes to close it, and is starting a 90-day consultation.

This is a huge attack on employees’ remuneration – directly affecting around 4000 UK employees.

It comes in the context of no bonus in 2008, the announcement of a pay freeze in 2009, £177m profits, Sharing In Success at a miserly 2% and myriad of other ways of penny-pinching from employees from attacking your right to attend medical appointments in work time to cutting Out Of Hours payments.

UNITE senior rep Ian Allinson and UNITE rep Jackie Cook are attending the meeting on Friday with the company and the ICL Pension Members Committee. Reps have already alerted our UNITE full time officers and are seeking advice and support from the union’s pensions expert.

As UNITE warned after the company announced the pay freeze:

“We need to make a firm response, whether or not this results in the company retreating on the pay freeze itself. The stronger the response from employees, the less likely the company are to come back for more – whether that’s bonuses, pensions, out of hours payments or jobs.”

The company has yet to produce any proper justification for the pay freeze, let alone this latest attempt to raise profits by cutting benefits.

Employees can and do defend their pay, benefits, pensions and rights. Perhaps one of the best known examples was the recent success of UNITE members at Ineos in Grangemouth in defending their final salary pension.

One thing is for sure – we only stand a chance of defending our pay, benefits and jobs if we stand together. These issues are too big to tackle alone. As Fujitsu employees we need to get organised in every site, in every area and in every department. We need to get organised now:

  • Can you talk to a colleague about the issues?
  • Can you ask a colleague to join the union?
  • Can you pass on this notice to a few colleagues who might be interested? Friends or colleagues who are interested in finding out more about UNITE in Fujitsu can leave their details here:
  • Can you volunteer to be a union rep or contact for your location?
Posted by IMH at 11:20 AM | Comments (0)

Pass It On

If you know a few Fujitsu friends or colleagues who aren’t in the union yet but you think might be interested, why not pass this email on to them?

If you’re one of those friends or colleagues, and are interested in finding out more about UNITE in Fujitsu, you can leave your details here:

…or just join of course!

Posted by IMH at 10:45 AM | Comments (0)

May 12, 2009

Sickness Absence Reporting

Some months ago the company introduced (without consultation) a new Sickness Absence Process for staff in Solutions Group, P&PM, Business Consulting, TI and RPG. In a number of respects these were similar to the second-class arrangements already in place in Customer Services. IS also adopted the new process. UNITE wants to see standards levelled up, not levelled down.

UNITE reps raised a number of concerns informally with management, which did result in positive changes. However, some concerns remained and members indicated in a poll that you wanted reps to continue pursuing two points:

  1. The requirement for the person off sick to phone work every day – even when they weren’t expected in work.
  2. The requirement to supply a contact number so that management can phone them while they are off sick.

After having limited success resolving these issues informally, your reps initiated a Collective Grievance. The Stage 1 meeting took place on 23rd March and we have now received the company’s response. We are happy to report that some real progress has been made on the two issues:

  1. The company is prepared to amend the requirement so that people would only be required to call on subsequent day(s) if their estimated duration of absence has changed since the initial phone call.
  2. The company has offered to amend the requirement so that:
    • Employees absent due to sickness are not in fact obliged to nominate a contact phone number.
    • A senior manager will only attempt to contact an individual in the event of an important business need (in any event the individual has the right to decline to respond) or if an individual has failed to phone in as required or agreed.
    • Contact “would only occur in exceptional circumstances”.

There are some additional aspects of their response that we have asked to be clarified but once we receive these we will report back to members for your views on whether the company response is acceptable.

This issue related to the “process” for sickness absence reporting, not the company policies themselves. In the meantime the company has introduced major changes in its policies around attendance at work – again without consultation. These appear to be a major backward step – treating employees as “guilty until proven innocent” and dumping more costs of ill-health onto employees rather than the company. The company has produced no evidence that it has a problem with excessive sickness absence or abuse of the system. The policy changes will be the subject of a future newsletter, which will ask for your comments on the new policies.

Posted by IMH at 02:33 PM | Comments (0)

Manchester Pay Update

You should already have seen last week’s joint announcement of the outcome of the talks with the company and ACAS on 30th April in relation to the pay freeze and the Manchester pay deal.

Reps should receive a response this week, following the company’s review of the situation in the light of the strong arguments put forward in favour of the company honouring the deal they had made so recently.

A further meeting with the company and ACAS is scheduled for Monday 18th May.

UNITE reps in Manchester continue to work with colleagues in UNITE and PCS across the UK to maximise the pressure on the company in relation to the pay review. Whether or not we are successful in overturning the pay freeze in Manchester or elsewhere, it is important that there is as strong a response as possible, to discourage the company from coming back for more by attacking other aspects of our employment. Please do everything you can to support the campaign.

In parallel with tackling the pay freeze, your reps have also been working with the company to help them produce a statement of their position on the various points in our pay claim that weren’t addressed in the pay deal. The company has now finalised this statement, which we have published on CafeVIK. This will be helpful in progressing issues in future years.

Posted by IMH at 02:30 PM | Comments (0)


Learning At Work Day

Don’t forget you can join in the activities for this year’s Learning At Work Day:

Thursday 14th May 2009, drop in between 10:30 and 15:00
MAN35 canteen

Your UNITE Learning Reps have put a lot of effort into organising this event to help you get access to information about training and development. As well as the reps, participants include Fujitsu People Development and various training providers.

World Book Day

The last major learning event on campus was World Book Day, on Thursday 5th March. Thanks to everyone who joined in and made it such a success, improving again on last year’s event.

The day began with the UNITE Learning Reps setting up and promoting of the new workplace library in the MAN34 restaurant, which included a wide range of books from fiction to specialist subjects. All the Learning Reps were on hand to promote the library to all employees, to encourage them to take books away to read as well as encouraging them to donate books of their own to increase the collection.

In the afternoon, two certificate presentations were held to recognise the learning achievements of many employees. The presentations were hosted by the Learning Reps, Tony Saunders from UnionLearn and were addressed by managers who said how well the partnership in learning was working.

Feedback from staff and managers was extremely positive.

Posted by IMH at 02:28 PM | Comments (0)

Updated Manchester Agreements

UNITE and company representatives have been working together to review the various Manchester agreements (Framework, Recognition, Annex 1, Annex 2, Annex 3, Annex 4 and Annex 5). Though the review didn’t end up dealing with all the issues that the company or the union would have liked to address, it has produced a “firm offer” from the company for a new set of agreements.

We have published the offer on CafeVIK. You need the password “draftonly” (no quotes) to open most of the files. Please take the time to read the README file, which explains the context and summarises the main changes.

Your reps see the changes as further improvements on our existing agreements, most of which were secured in September 2007 at the end of our dispute.

If you have any questions about the offer, please speak to one of your reps.

Posted by IMH at 02:27 PM | Comments (0)

May 05, 2009

Greater Manchester IT Branch Meeting

In May (as in January), the meeting of UNITE’s Greater Manchester IT Branch takes place on the second Thursday, not the first Thursday. It is:

5:30-7pm at
Fujitsu Services, Central Park, Northampton Road, Manchester, M40 5BP.

There’s a map here.

Non-Fujitsu employees should report to the reception at MAN34 (the middle building), from where you can be escorted on site.

The remaining meeting dates for 2009 are:

· Thursday 14th May
· Thursday 4th June
· Thursday 2nd July
· Thursday 6th August (NB: this is in conference room 33GCR2)
· Thursday 3rd September
· Thursday 1st October
· Thursday 5th November
· Thursday 3rd December

All these meetings will take place in conference room 34GCR2, except for the August meeting.

From 5pm before the start of the May meeting we will be showing some film of the campaign against job losses at Ford/Visteon. UNITE members at Visteon were dismissed without pay when their employer went into administration. They campaigned hard (even occupying the premises) and have won very significant redundancy payments.

The meeting will deal with all the normal business of the branch, as well as having time to discuss workplace reports.

All branch members are encouraged to come along and take part in the discussions and decisions.

Don’t forget the “UNITE For Jobs” national demonstration in Birmingham on 16th May – free transport is available – please book up.

Posted by IMH at 02:36 PM | Comments (0)