Workers at the Fujitsu services company held the first ever national strike in the IT industry when they took action in defence of their jobs, pay and pensions on Friday. Big and lively picket lines were seen at Fujitsu offices across the country—including Manchester, Warrington, Crewe and Belfast—as the 1,600 Unite union members struck.
Workers travelled from sites across the country to protest on the day outside Fujitsu’s Baker Street HQ in London. Some dressed as Scrooge, and the Ghost of Christmas’ Past, Present and Future to shame their bosses. Workers and national executives from other unions joined the protest to show their solidarity with Fujitsu staffs important battle to stop their rights, pay and jobs being eroded.
The highly profitable company put around 6,000 workers at risk of redundancy, with up to 1,200 jobs planned to go. It proposes to close its final salary pension scheme, which the union estimates would be equivalent to a pay cut of around 20 percent for those affected. It aims to dismiss the 4,000 staff affected and then re-employ them on new contracts with worse pension conditions. Other companies have since followed Fujitsu’s example by attacking their final salary pension schemes.
Fujitsu also withdrew a pay deal at the last minute earlier this year. Many workers believe the company is taking advantage of the recession to carry out the attacks.
Many people at the London protest were angry with the company's stance.
Ben Ashdown came with around 20 colleagues from Manchester. He said, “We have seen a number of attacks in the last year with the company reneging on the pay rise and announcing redundancies. This is a company that made £100 million last year.
“They’re paying the shareholders well but not us. We’re the people that made the profits for Fujitsu.
“It’s exciting to take part in the first national IT strike. The industry has changed a lot since 2000. It’s not a place where there are massive wage packets. Everything’s been forced down. We need to protect our pay and conditions. Things should get better not worse.”
Delroy Robinson from London said, “The company’s been getting away with this for far too long. In the past you could go to human resources if you had a problem, but its nature has changed in almost every company. Now the only thing people have got to look after their interests is the union.”
After they had made their point at Fujitsu HQ, the workers marched down to Oxford Street to raise awareness of their dispute outside the stores of Fujitsu customers, including Marks & Spencer and Vodafone.
Unite plans to step up the campaign in the new year with more strikes set for 7, 8, 11, 14 and 15 January.