May 26, 2011

Cases

Week in, week out, UNITE reps help members with advice, support and representation to help resolve a huge range of issues. Many can’t be reported due to confidentiality. A member in Wakefield writes:

“When I needed support at work John and Barbara from Unite were there to give me help, advice and support. They made a difficult process easier and gave me confidence in putting my views across to my managers which led to an outcome I was very happy with.”
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Pay & benefits 2011

Fujitsu has published the managers’ guidelines for the August 2011 pay review, which apply to UK staff not covered by collective bargaining.

The company proposes a pay “pot” of just 2%. The latest inflation figures are 5.2% (RPI) in the year to April, while even the artificially lower CPI measure stood at 4.5%. This means Fujitsu proposes a significant cut in the living standards of most employees yet again.

No doubt the company will seek to justify the paltry pay pot by pointing the impact of government cuts and contract losses on the company’s finances. This might be more credible if the company gave decent pay rises in the good years. The graph below shows how far we’ve all been falling behind – even if you got a rise matching the full “pot” every year:

pay chart.gif

The company says that 2049 employees haven’t had any pay rise at all since April 2008.

Whatever problems Fujitsu has, they certainly aren’t caused by paying the workforce too much. Focussing on the short term and neglecting the people who deliver its services is no way to build a successful company. No wonder morale is so low when not only is the company cutting our pay in real terms, but demanding more and more from each of us while chipping away at everything from pensions to the Majority Club and pre-retirement wind-down.

In the growing parts of the company covered by union recognition, the company will negotiate with the unions over the pay review, rather than unilaterally deciding on the pot and guidelines without even consulting anyone.
It’s only by building stronger union organisation across Fujitsu and the rest of the IT industry that employees will be able to stop the “race to the bottom” and ensure we all get decent pay and benefits.

  • 2049 employees haven’t had any pay rise at all since April 2008, and it is clear the company intends to give many zeroes this year.
  • The company has allocated a separate 0.5% “pot” for promotions. Promotions are about changing who does which job, and don’t affect the overall payroll cost (see Bodgit & Scarper). A restricted pot for promotions could break the legal principle of equal pay for work of equal value, as someone being promoted could be paid less than they deserve. The company makes this even worse by suggesting being “new in role” could justify paying someone less than 75% of the median.
  • The guidelines fail to adequately cover arrangements for employees in Service Desks.
  • There is no reference to any firm minimum wage, yet again promising only a “review” to those on less than £13,500 – a figure that hasn’t increased by a penny since last year.
  • The guidelines say that a key focus is on Equal Pay anomalies, yet the company gives no guidance to managers on how to identify them (section 4 is about pay anomalies, not equal pay anomalies), while continued secrecy hinders employees checking for themselves.
  • The company intends to waste some of the inadequate pay review budget on non-consolidated bonuses.

You should have seen the campaign UNITE has launched in the IT Services industry for fair and transparent pay and benefits. Details of this, including a leaflet that has been widely distributed, are available on the campaign web site: www.unitetheunion.org/itcharter.

Winning fairness and transparency would be an achievement in its own right, but it can also help us build the union’s strength so that workers have more influence over the pay rates themselves – something that is very difficult when they are so secret.

UNITE has already written to major IT Services companies requesting information to objectively assess the fairness of their pay systems. Some responses (including Fujitsu’s) were predictably unhelpful in providing the information requested. However, it is interesting that several companies are already starting to take the issue more seriously. For example, Fujitsu’s pay guidelines include the statement:

In response to feedback from employee groups, including Fujitsu Voice, we intend to move from Internal Pay medians towards external market benchmarks which will not be population dependant and which will be published. For the 2011/12 pay review we will have external benchmarks for some roles as an additional frame of reference to Internal Pay Comparators. A comprehensive set of external benchmarks will be developed for 2012/13 which will be more definitive.

This is a significant early success for UNITE’s campaign and one we need to build on. Look out for further information about how you can get involved in the campaign for fair and transparent pay and benefits in the IT Services industry.

Fujitsu’s guidelines don’t explain which roles will have external benchmarks this year, how they have been selected, or how they have been mapped onto Fujitsu role codes. All these questions have a significant bearing on the fairness of using the figures in the pay review.

Workers in one of the UNITE bargaining units in HP faced the threat of a pay freeze this year, but following a short strike the company increased the offer to 2% - still not great, but 2% better than if they’d had no union.

Appraisals and Objectives

Many members are discussing appraisals and objectives around this time of year. Though our survey showed many staff feel their appraisals are of little real value, it’s important to ensure you don’t lose out in terms of pay, bonus or job opportunities. Your appraisal could even affect redundancy selection.

UNITE previously produced some tips on objectives, appraisals and discussing pay with your manager which are available online.

Make sure you agree your PAC rating with your manager in your appraisal meeting, so that you know if it’s later “moderated” by someone else without your knowledge. There are persistent rumours of some managers applying “quotas” to the numbers getting particular PACs – which is fundamentally wrong and is not part of Fujitsu’s Performance Plus system. UNITE’s IT & Communications sector produced a briefing on the issue last year.

If you get bad feedback and it’s fair, then learn by it. If it’s not fair then work out why and challenge it as soon as you can otherwise it may be too late. Are you being made a scapegoat for a wider problem or the victim of internal politics? Could it be discrimination on Gender, Age, Race, Sexuality, Disability etc – whether deliberate or not? Whatever the problem is, don’t let it drop and (especially if it might be discrimination) feel free to talk to a rep in confidence to work out the best way to tackle it.

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Defend Alan Jenney

The campaign to stop Fujitsu bypassing its own procedures and singling out UNITE Crewe rep Alan Jenney for “redundancy” continues. Thanks to everyone who has already returned the petition or sent messages of protest. For more details see online. Please return any remaining signatures before the end of this week.

On 10th May UNITE members in Crewe decided unanimously to make preparations for an industrial action ballot over the case. Alan’s “90-days” expires before the end of June, and the company has still failed to take the simple steps necessary to resolve the situation.

A further members’ meeting has now decided to ask UNITE to start the process to ballot members in Crewe for industrial action, to ensure that the result is available before Alan’s ballot.

Please do as much as you can to support the campaign, so that it can be brought to a successful conclusion without the need for members to go on strike.

If the issue is unresolved and the vote is to strike, action could take place on 30th June to coincide with many of our customers going on strike in defence of public services. After all, if it wasn’t for the government cuts, Fujitsu wouldn’t be under such pressure to worsen our pay and conditions, and perhaps wouldn’t be so aggressive in its dealings with union reps. Making these links should help members build support to ensure Alan keeps his job and we protect the union organisation that protects us.

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P60s

All Fujitsu employees should by now have received their P60 statements, the annual Certificate of Pay, Income Tax and National Insurance Contributions.

However some employees have received more than one P60. If you have received more than one, the statements may well contain different information relating to National Insurance Contributions. No other differences are currently known, but please check very carefully in case of other differences.

Fujitsu say they have advised those they believe are affected, though there is evidence that not everyone has in fact been contacted.

If you have received more than one P60 and not been contacted by either Payroll or HR to advise why, it is in your best interests to contact Payroll Queries (UK) to confirm your situation.

Remember that the P60 is one of the documents that is used by HMRC to calculate your tax liabilities and is also used in tax self assessments.

You should always check your P60 for any errors that you can identify.

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Pensions Update

The ICL DB trustees have now issued a statement clarifying the changes to Early Retirement Factors. Members considering taking up the company’s offer of an increased pension in exchange for giving up inflation-linked pension increases may be interested in this BBC report.

If you are an ICL DB member whose notice period expires at the end of this month, please refer to the notice on 18th May – don’t lose your job by mistake!

According to what the company told Fujitsu Voice last week, the company intends to break the commitment it made in the ACAS agreement and during pension consultation that it would set up a consultation body for the FJUK plan. This affects the vast majority of Fujitsu’s UK workforce. If unchallenged, it would mean employees having no say over the selection of Member Nominated Trustees, who are key to protecting our pensions. Watch this space...

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May 12, 2011

Defend Alan Jenney

A copy of this newsletter is available here.

Fujitsu has singled out Alan Jenney, Deputy Chair of UNITE’s Fujitsu UK Combine Committee and a UNITE Rep in Crewe, to put him at risk of redundancy. Alan’s treatment breaks Fujitsu’s procedures and agreements, and is inconsistent with how other employees are dealt with.

If Fujitsu gets away with making Alan redundant by breaking its own agreements and treating him more harshly than other employees, it will undermine the ability of any employee representative to speak up on behalf of staff.

UNITE is mounting a vigorous campaign to defend Alan. Please take a few minutes to read this newsletter, especially the section at the end which suggests how you can show your support.

As we know, Fujitsu’s attempts to victimise reps can be successfully stopped.

Alan’s Case

Alan has worked for the company since 1993 and is currently a Business Improvement Specialist (TSM/1).

Jobs come and go frequently in Fujitsu, but this is normally managed through redeployment, without anyone being put at risk of redundancy dismissal. One current example of this has been the successful redeployment of hundreds of staff after the unexpected loss of the DWP Desktops contract.

In Alan’s case, Fujitsu wants to cut one job from Alan’s team but immediately decided to declare a redundancy situation, without any attempt at redeployment. Fujitsu has failed to respond to UNITE’s requests for an explanation, despite the fact that avoiding redundancies is the first point for redundancy consultation.

Fujitsu defined a “selection pool” of two people, the other being in the UNITE Manchester bargaining unit and so covered by the union’s “Annex 1” agreement. That agreement is crystal clear that consultation is required, and that it starts when written notification (including a specified set of information is “provided to the senior union representative for the bargaining unit (or a deputy if they are absent), and a copy sent to the Union’s registered office”. No such notification has been given; the consultation period has not yet begun.

The agreement is clear that it is a bad idea to rush into selection:

There is no point carrying out a selection unless there is something to select them for (e.g. a suitable alternative job, redundancy). Premature selection could narrow the options for redeployment. Clarity about what selection is for could influence the choice of an appropriate selection process.

In line with this, both individuals affected and UNITE expressed a preference to delay selection and focus on redeployment and avoiding any redundancy dismissal.

Fujitsu falsely and bizarrely claimed that it would be illegal to redeploy anyone without selecting them for redundancy first. As the agreement explains:

“Redeployment of an Employee (at the initiative of the Company or the individual) from a job for which there is less requirement (i.e. a job which is at risk) to a new job can take place whether or not there is a risk of Employees being dismissed as redundant.”

Instead, Fujitsu finalised the selection criteria before starting consultation (which would also have covered this point) and rushed ahead with a flawed selection process which selected Alan for redundancy.

The selection process was flawed, but that is a secondary issue. Given the total disregard for the Annex 1 agreement, it is hard to draw any conclusion other than that the company knew in advance that they were going to select the member not covered by it – Alan.

Neither member should be at risk or redundancy – Fujitsu should work to redeploy anyone in this department they believe is not required, just as they do for hundreds of others.

Alan has been rejected for one of the redeployment opportunities he applied for because of “a number of at risk positions that need to be prioritised”, clearly not including his own.

All Alan is asking for is to be dealt with fairly, in accordance with Fujitsu’s own policies and agreements, and in the same way as the many hundreds of other Fujitsu employees who are redeployed without being put at risk of redundancy.

What YOU can do now

1. If you know of any redeployment opportunities for Alan, please let him know. Jobs of interest would include TSM/1, SDM/1 or MAN/1 roles in the North West.

2. Sign the “Defend Alan Jenney” petition, encourage your colleagues to do so, and return it as soon as possible.

3. A members’ meeting at Crewe today decided unanimously to start preparations for an industrial action ballot, in case the company goes ahead with victimising Alan. Key to this is verifying the details of every member. Members in Crewe will receive an email in the near future asking them to check and confirm or correct their details – please respond to it straight away.

4. Use this email and ask your MP, family, friends and relevant organisations to protest to Duncan Tait, the Chief Executive and Ella Bennett, the HR Director. Duncan can be contacted at Fujitsu, 22 Baker Street, London, W1U 3BW. Ella can be contacted at the same postal address. Please let us know if you've sent something.

5. Pass this newsletter on to a few colleagues who you think might be interested.

Please keep your eyes peeled for further updates.

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