Workers at Fujitsu’s Birmingham site are balloting for action ballot over the company’s plan to export production to Texas.
The result of the ballot – organised by the Communication Workers Union (CWU) – will be known on 14 May. However, it looks likely that the company and its employees are headed for a confrontation.
At the heart of the dispute lies Fujitsu’s plans to end manufacturing at this site by September 2008, leaving just a research and development facility. The proposal came as a complete bolt from the blue to a workforce which has a long history of working positively and flexibly with management and immediately proved an unprecedented industrial relations flash-point – with workers at a site meeting voting 85 to one for a strike ballot.
The fury of CWU members was further exacerbated when – despite company claims that the proposed move of manufacturing work was not a “done deal” – a team from the US arrived on site to start preparations for the transfer.
CWU acting deputy general secretary Bill McClory said, “While the CWU is attempting to engage positively with Fujitsu to see how work can be maintained in the UK, those facing redundancy are already witnessing people measuring up machinery and processes with a view to taking it away.”
“This has added insult to injury, and gives us real cause for concern that the 90 day ‘consultation’ we are now embarked upon is actually going to be a phoney consultation.'
Already the union is asking why the Birmingham plant is shouldering the brunt of redundancies when Fujitsu’s own benchmarking has identified it as one of the most efficient and productive sites world-wide.