Colleagues at Warrington today (there's also the photographer who's behind the camera!)
And more support from the members' meeting in Manchester today
And support from Basingstoke today
Thanks to all the members who attended today’s Manchester members meeting. This is a summary of some of the key points.
Today a protest was held in Crewe at lunchtime in support of Alan Jenney, and members’ meetings are being held in Warrington and Basingstoke.
Members were given a top level explanation of the proposed new structure, why it matters and the process that is under way. People should seek to influence the process.
Outside the bargaining unit, the pay review budget was smaller (2%), many people got zero rises and there was no way for employees to monitor outcomes.
In the bargaining unit, the pay review will cost more than 2.5%, there are no zeroes and there is at least some connection between your rise, previous salary and performance.
The company caused problems throughout the negotiation process, and has messed up implementation. Members discussed the report on implementation issues which was circulated by email earlier today.
It is important that you check that the rise you have been given is no lower than the minimum allowed by the agreement. To help you do this, UNITE has produced a spreadsheet checker tool and made it available on CafeVIK. Members at the meeting were provided with a report on the pay comparators used for the pay review, to help them check their pay rises.
In addition, UNITE is arranging sessions where union members can get help from reps to check their pay rise. If you are a UNITE member and would like to take advantage of this, please email your reps to book a 10-minute appointment at one of the checking sessions:
• Friday 26th August, 10:00 – 12:00
• Wednesday 31st August, 14:00 – 16:00
Please specify what times you would be able to attend. You will then be sent an invitation for a particular 10-minute appointment. Please be punctual and ensure you bring along the necessary information (most of which is on your pay review letter, appraisal or Self Service).
Members discussed how the company was breaking the pay and benefits agreement, reinforcing the importance of the wider dispute.
Members agreed the following motion which determines how UNITE will propose the company rectifies the spending shortfalls:
|We recognise that while our pay review has been disappointing and poorly implemented, it is already significantly better than that for staff outside the bargaining unit.
The company delays in providing information for collective bargaining make it impossible to take specific decisions at this point on how shortfall money should be spent, but it is possible to decide on some principles:
1. Budget should not be moved between the different pay systems.
We resolve to encourage all employees in the bargaining unit to check their pay rises using the UNITE checker, and to publicise the IT Services campaign for fair and transparent pay and benefits, including the pay survey.
We instruct our reps to continue to pursue adequate information for collective bargaining, and to seek updates to the Manchester Pay And Benefits Agreement in line with any clarifications agreed.
It was emphasised that if the pay outcomes prove significantly different to that based on the unreliable information currently available from the company, reps might need to come back to members again.
Based on the information so far available, reps believe that implementation in line with the motion above would mean a total budget of:
• 2.968% for those on the D1-D4 pay system
• 2.724% for those on the medians pay system
The difference between the two figures is because lower pay in the Service Desks means more staff benefit from the £225 minimum on the Cost Of Living element of the pay review.
Members were encouraged to support UNITE’s campaign for Fair and Transparent Pay in the IT Services industry by:
• Completing the survey of Fujitsu pay and encouraging other members and non-members to do so
• Using the campaign lanyards, stickers and wristbands which were distributed at the meeting and are available from reps
• Helping distribute the latest “One Per Desk” newsletter and displaying the back of it (the Fair Pay Charter) as a poster at their desks
For more information on the campaign, see www.unitetheunion.org/itcharter.
Members were reminded of the crucial issues in dispute which are already affecting some employees directly (e.g. individuals facing massive cuts in Out Of Hours payments) and will affect more of us if unresolved.
Reps emphasised that the company is “trying it on” but can be pushed back, as it has in dropping their threats to delay our pay review beyond August and over the some of the issues around victimisation of Manchester rep Jay Lieberman.
Members discussed an update from the ACAS talks, which have made slow and limited progress so far, but which are continuing.
To be counted, completed ballot papers must REACH the Independent Scrutineer no later than NOON on Thursday 1 September 2011 so anyone who has not already voted is encouraged to vote YES+YES, return their ballot paper as soon as possible and confirm to reps when they have done so, in order that reps don’t waste time chasing them up unnecessarily.
A member suggested that members should book places on the “Meet Duncan Tait – The New CEO” sessions and ensure he hears firsthand what members aren’t happy about.
Members agreed the following motion:
We note the slow and limited progress made in talks with the company and the ongoing problems affecting members arising from Fujitsu’s refusal to stick to its agreements. We welcome the continuation of dialogue but believe that the company’s decision to impose changes on employees before talks conclude, rather than to honour the status quo, means that our campaign should not be delayed. We welcome the involvement of UNITE’s new National Dispute Unit to assist with our campaign.
We support a strategy for resolving the dispute based on:
We resolve to:
If the result of the industrial action ballot is YES+YES and the dispute has not been resolved, we instruct our reps to make a plan for initial industrial action to be called by UNITE along these lines:
Our new national newsletter/"One Per Desk" newsletter is available
Ballot papers for industrial action were posted out yesterday, and members are likely to start receiving them from today. UNITE is asking all members to vote YES+YES in the ballot as soon as they receive their ballot paper.
Monday’s notice looked at the main issues in dispute. Wednesday’s notice was a Q&A about ballots and industrial action. Yesterday members started distributing a “One Per Desk” newsletter mostly about the dispute.
The company is breaking the Recognition Agreement, Annex 1 (redundancy and redeployment), the Security of Employment Agreement (SEA), the national ACAS agreement, and the Manchester Pay And Benefits Agreement. UNITE has highlighted these breaches to the company, but the company has so far chosen not to put them right – a serious attack on the rights of every employee. These are not just technical breaches. Unless our campaign succeeds in putting things right, these breaches mean:
In addition, there is a pattern of Fujitsu trying to victimise reps in Manchester and elsewhere. Unless we stop this it will be hard for staff to have the choice and quality of representation they need and deserve – making it harder for each individual to defend their own rights, terms and conditions.
At the moment, the breaches and union-busting are only directly affecting a small number of members. Now is the time to stop them. If you spot a small leak in a dam, you take action immediately, rather than waiting for the dam to burst. Allowing the company to break our agreements and our organisation in this period of economic uncertainty would be foolish in the extreme.
We faced a similar pattern of attacks in 2006-7, and members brought that dispute to a successful conclusion, ushering in a period of relatively good industrial relations.
Over recent years UNITE membership in Fujitsu has grown and we now have national organisation. With Fujitsu now trying to rebalance its business towards the private sector, the company is seeking business from companies with significant UNITE membership and influence. This is a campaign we can win, but a big YES+YES vote is essential for us to do so.
A “no” vote on either strike action or action short of strike would make a negotiated settlement very unlikely and would be a green light for HR to accelerate their attacks on your rights, terms and conditions.
No decision has yet been taken on what action would be called if members vote for action and the dispute remains unresolved, but UNITE will only call action that has been agreed at a members’ meeting.
Resolving the dispute will help make Fujitsu more successful. It would be much better for the company to have a reputation for “near perfect execution” than to allow HR to create the impression that this is a company that will promise anything to get a deal and then fail to deliver.
Ballot papers for industrial action will be posted out to UNITE members in scope of the Manchester Recognition Agreement on Thursday 4th August 2011 – TOMORROW. UNITE is asking all members to vote YES+YES in the ballot.
Monday’s notice looked at the main issues in dispute. Today’s notice contains a Q&A about industrial action, reinforcing why a big YES+YES vote is so vital.
What will the questions on the ballot paper be?
The wording of the questions is dictated by legislation. They will be: “Are you prepared to take part in strike action?” and “Are you prepared to take part in industrial action short of strike?”
Why are there two questions? Can I vote yes to one and not the other?
The format of the questions is dictated by legislation. You can vote how you wish, but UNITE is urging members to vote YES+YES. Without a YES vote on both questions, your reps do not believe the campaign will be successful. The higher the YES+YES vote the more likely the company is to back off.
Who is included in the ballot?
All UNITE members employed by Fujitsu Services Limited who are in scope of the Manchester Recognition Agreement. However, members who are not expected to be in work (e.g. long term sick, maternity leave) throughout the period during which any industrial action would take place must be excluded.
Why can’t non-union members vote?
By law, a union can only ballot members. However, unions can call on non-members to take part in industrial action. Non-members don’t get financial and other support from the union during a dispute.
Will I be able to vote by email or internet?
No. This is a formal legal process. UNITE uses an independent body to run industrial action ballots, which are postal.
If there is a YES+YES vote, what action does UNITE intend to call?
UNITE will not call any action which has not been agreed at a members’ meeting, and no decision has been taken at this stage. A YES+YES vote on both questions allows members flexibility in the campaign and the maximum legal protection during the dispute. A further members’ meeting will be arranged to decide a range of activities and action.
Is the ballot secret?
Yes. No record is kept of who is sent which ballot paper. The ballot is run and counted by an independent organisation. Ballot papers have serial numbers to assist them in detecting fraud.
Are you breaking your contract if you take industrial action?
Technically, you may be, but the law protects your right to do so. The ballot paper must, by law, include the following statements:
“If you take part in a strike or other industrial action, you may be in breach of your contract of employment.”
“However, if you are dismissed for taking part in strike or other industrial action which is called officially and is otherwise lawful, the dismissal will be unfair if it takes place fewer than twelve weeks after you started taking part in the action, and depending on the circumstances may be unfair if it takes place later”
There is also legal protection against discrimination for union membership or taking part in union activities.
If I go on strike, do I get paid?
Employers don’t usually pay workers for strike days, but sometimes payment is agreed as part of a settlement. If we have to go on strike, UNITE intends to seek payment for strike days as part of the eventual deal.
UNITE provides Dispute Benefit of £30 a day to members who are on official strike. To administer this, your reps will need you to confirm that you were on strike for each strike day.
Your reps have also organised a fund to provide extra financial support if we take industrial action. During a dispute, it is possible to raise large amounts of money from other trade unionists, the local community, friends and family. During previous strikes in Fujitsu, strikers raised tens of thousands of pounds, allowing the union to provide additional financial support, so that no member who wanted to take part was unable to do so for financial reasons. We have already started raising funds for the campaign. Can you take our collection sheet round your friends and family, like you would for a sponsored swim? There’s also a (frequently updated) “appeal for support” leaflet which explains what it’s all about.
Members will be able to apply for additional Hardship Payments if their financial situation means they would otherwise be unable to take part in the action. As the money for this is being raised by members, Hardship Payments will only be available to members who play an active part in the campaign. This means it will be important to ensure your name is recorded on a register when you take part in picketing or other campaign activities. Reps will ensure that there are activities which everyone can take part in.
What are we trying to achieve?
Monday’s newsletter went through the main issues in dispute. In summary, the dispute is about a breakdown in industrial relations, company union-busting and breaches of agreements. Fujitsu is breaking agreements in relation to redundancy and redeployment, pay, pensions, out of hours working, consultation before decisions are taken, negotiation without the company imposing outcomes first (whether for individual or collective issues), as well as victimising reps in Manchester and elsewhere.
We want a new Fujitsu approach to industrial relations within which they honour their agreements. We also want Fujitsu to address the issues rather than picking on the reps who raise them on our behalf. As part of that we want an agreed resolution for victimised UNITE rep Alan Jenney.
Can we win?
Yes. What we’re campaigning for is little more than good management. Far from bankrupting Fujitsu it would make the company more successful by reducing time-wasting and improving morale, the company’s reputation and the quality of management decisions.
We need a big YES+YES vote to put the pressure on Fujitsu, but UNITE isn’t planning to rely heavily on industrial action to bring the dispute to a conclusion. We also need to look at other forms of leverage. For example, Fujitsu is trying to rebalance its business to have a greater private sector share, which means winning contracts with more organisations where UNITE has members and influence.
We brought a similar dispute in 2006-7 when the company sought to gradually derecognise the union and break the Security of Employment Agreement (SEA) to a successful conclusion. UNITE is far stronger now than then.
Ballot papers for industrial action will be posted out to UNITE members in scope of the Manchester Recognition Agreement on Thursday 4th August 2011 – 3 days to go. UNITE is asking all members to vote YES+YES. in the ballot.
Today’s notice explains some of the issues in dispute, reinforcing why a big YES+YES vote is so vital.
If you have any questions about the issues or the campaign, or you want to help organise the campaign, don’t forget tomorrow’s Dispute Committee meeting which is open to all members:
12:30pm, Tuesday 2nd August, 34GCR2
In summary, the dispute is about a breakdown in industrial relations, company union-busting and breaches of agreements. Fujitsu is breaking agreements in relation to redundancy and redeployment, pay, pensions, out of hours working, consultation before decisions are taken, negotiation without the company imposing outcomes first (whether for individual or collective issues), as well as victimising reps in Manchester and elsewhere.
Details are below of how we need a change of course from Fujitsu to avoid a situation where:
The time to stop this is now.
Redundancy and Redeployment
We have two key agreements on redundancy and redeployment. Annex 1 covers everyone in the Manchester bargaining unit. The Security of Employment Agreement (SEA) covers a significant number of people inside and outside the bargaining unit, typically those who joined the company before 1st January 2000.
Annex 1 has been a tremendous success. Since it was introduced, despite many job losses, not a single person covered by it has been forced out of the company through redundancy without their agreement.
Both agreements are under attack, threatening all our job security. Even after the problems were drawn to their attention, there are now cases where the company:
Unless we stop such breaches of our agreements, far more people are likely to be made compulsorily redundant in future.
Just as serious is the specific form that one of these breaches has taken in relation to rejecting volunteers. One reason given, which falls outside the criteria in both Annex 1 and the SEA, is the cost of the redundancy package. Had this been used in Project Cherry, this would have resulted in vastly more compulsory redundancies.
Last year, UNITE’s analysis showed that the company paid about 200 people (around a quarter of those in the bargaining unit) less than they were contractually entitled to under the Manchester Pay And Benefits Agreement (MPABA) – with the shortfall running into tens of thousands of pounds.
The company refused to do anything about this until UNITE helped thirteen people mount legal challenges. All these individuals had their cases settled in full, with back pay.
UNITE also had to mount a legal challenge via the CAC to force disclosure of pay and benefit comparator information. To avoid this being necessary again, the company agreed to introduce an “Appendix 4” to the agreement, setting out what information should be provided. A draft was agreed in January, yet the company never signed it and hasn’t stuck to it, forcing UNITE to lodge yet another CAC claim in 2011.
The unnecessary problems with information disclosure contributed to a situation where people have little confidence that the matrices in this year’s pay deal will actually deliver the pay rises the company claims – making it more likely that further action will be needed to enforce our agreement.
Other areas of the 2010 MPABA that the company has broken include:
Unless we stop such breaches of agreements, pay and benefits will become even less fair.
The company is breaking the national agreement reached through ACAS in February 2010, in which Fujitsu promised:
“n) the company will set up a consultative body with which regular discussions can take place on pension arrangements relating to the FJUK plan – this would include representatives from Unite;”
No such body has been set up, and the company is taking no action to do so. This deprives FJUK members of any way of having a democratic say in the selection of our Member Nominated Trustees. Instead the company appoints the majority of the trustees and the trustees themselves carry out the selection. This undermines this important mechanism introduced in legislation to help members keep an eye on their pension funds.
The national ACAS agreement also said:
“l) the company confirms that the terms of its Defined Contribution pension schemes are a contractual entitlement for those existing and new employees who are members of such schemes;”
The 2010 Manchester Pay And Benefits Agreement expanded on this for the Manchester bargaining unit:
“The terms of the Company’s Defined Contribution pension schemes are a contractual entitlement for those existing and new employees who are members of such schemes. Wording based on the contractual variation letter used for former members of the ICL DB Pension Plan will be incorporated into this agreement.”
“By 1st October 2010 the Company and UNITE will set up a joint “implementation group” comprising the 2010 pay negotiating teams whose functions will include:
c. Incorporation into this agreement relevant points arising from the national ACAS agreement of 26th February 2010”
UNITE (with the benefit of legal advice) helped the company to produce the wording for a “contractual variation” letter used for people switching from the ICL DB to FJUK pension plan.
The Joint Implementation Group agreed action 32 on UNITE to “propose wording and timing” to implement these parts of the agreement, which UNITE did on 20th April 2011. The company stalled for months before recently saying it will not implement them at all.
The result of these breaches of our agreements is that a few thousand members have proper detailed wording in their contracts of employment to protect their pensions. The majority of staff just have a bland statement that the terms are contractual, which is of dubious value.
In reality, this breach of our agreements is extremely bad news for all employees:
Unless we stop such breaches of agreements, we will have no say over the trustees who oversee our pensions, and we will allow the company to attack FJUK pension benefits more easily by dividing the workforce.
Out of Hours Working
Section 8.2 of our Recognition Agreement says:
“The Company agrees that it will inform the Union before any alteration to Terms and Conditions of Employment (including proposed Terms & Conditions for new hires or internal job changes) or working practices which would affect Employees in the Bargaining Unit. The Company will then consult the Union and seek to resolve any consequent issues through the negotiating procedure outlined in this Recognition Agreement before the proposed changes are implemented.”
It was because such consultation had never taken place that a collective grievance on behalf of a sizeable group of Manchester staff in what is now Data Centre Managed Services (DCMS) resulted in many staff being restored to the Unsocial Hours Policy (UHP) in 2005.
IN 2007 UNITE engaged in discussions with the company alongside PCS and the UKCF about Out Of Hours harmonisation. The company ended this process part way through, but introduced a horrible new policy called the “IS Interim Guidelines”. The company agreed not to use this in the Manchester bargaining unit, and did not even start consultation about doing so.
UNITE has now caught the company using a rebadged version of the same policy, now called the UK Interim Additional Hours Guidelines in the bargaining unit, without having consulted at all. The company has also imposed detrimental changes to Out Of Hours payments in some areas without consultation, and continued to do so even after grievances have been raised.
Unless we stop such breaches of agreements, we face a “race to the bottom” in terms and conditions.
Consultation before decisions are taken
The section above on Out Of Hours includes some examples of this breach of our Recognition Agreement. There are many more, such as the removal of pre-retirement wind-down and the Majority Club, or changes to sickness absence management.
Unless we stop such breaches of agreements, employees will have no real say over how they are treated at work.
Negotiation without the company imposing outcomes first
When the company consults properly, most issues can be resolved informally. But when they don’t, or if an issue proves meaty enough for either the company or UNITE to place it into the formal negotiating procedure, the Recognition Agreement requires both parties to focus on the negotiations rather than trying to impose an outcome while negotiations are ongoing.
This applies for individual issues, where the agreement says:
9.6 The Company and the Union agree to refrain from taking any other action in relation to the contested issues until the individual grievance procedure outlined in this section of this Recognition Agreement has been exhausted (unless the action is required by law or has to be taken before the procedure is exhausted to avoid missing a legal deadline). In other words, the pre-existing circumstances will continue to apply.
It also applies for collective issues:
10.1 Negotiation and Collective Bargaining constitute a requirement for the Company to seek agreement with the Union prior to decisions on matters for collective negotiation being finalised. The Company and the Union agree to refrain from taking any other action in relation to the contested issues until the procedure outlined in this Recognition Agreement has been exhausted (unless the action is required by law or has to be taken before the procedure is exhausted to avoid missing a legal deadline). In other words, the pre-existing circumstances will continue to apply.
There are examples of both individual and collective issues where the company is ignoring this basic principle of good-faith negotiation, and imposing outcomes without making any serious attempt to reach agreement. This is a significant reason for issues escalating.
Unless we stop such breaches of agreements, employees will be unable to resolve issues with the company through negotiation.
Victimising reps in Manchester and elsewhere
UNITE has successfully fended off many attempts to pick on reps in Fujitsu. In Manchester we have seen attempts to discipline Ian Allinson and Phil Tepper, reps such as Pauline Bradburn and Jay Lieberman being prevented from working by the management team, and attempts to “persuade” reps to leave the company.
There have also been straightforward breaches of our Recognition Agreement when it comes to the treatment of reps:
6.8 The Company will ensure that representatives neither benefit nor suffer detriment (including pay, benefits other contractual terms, promotion and progression) when compared with typical colleagues in similar roles who do not hold such positions, unless for a reason unrelated to their representative role.
6.9 Objectives, appraisals, bonuses, incentive payments etc for representatives will not take account of the quality of work done as a representative (members are responsible for assessing this at election time), but will make allowance for the time reasonably required to perform their duties.
6.10 The Company will ensure that “utilisation” and similar calculations which are used to evaluate the contribution of individuals and teams treat reps time as unavailable rather than unutilised.
6.11 Time for Union duties and activities will be centrally accounted for, to avoid unfair pressure on particular teams and departments.
The Company refuses to implement the commitments on utilisation or central accounting, thus ensuring that line managers are incentivised to “discourage” reps from working on behalf of members.
Most starkly, we have had the recent dismissal of Alan Jenney, who was both a UNITE rep in Crewe, and the Deputy Chair of the union’s Combine Committee across Fujitsu in the UK. The outrageous handling of Alan’s case reinforces the view that the primary reason for his dismissal was his union role rather than a genuine redundancy.
If the company gets away with sacking Alan – who will be next?
Unless we stop such treatment of our reps, people will become less confident to get involved and we will not have the standard of representation we need.