Fujitsu workers are escalating their fight for jobs, pay and pensions with five more days of strike action set to take place.
More than 1,450 Unite union members at the IT company struck solidly for the seventh day on Friday of last week.
They are angry at plans to make workers redundant, the imposition of a pay freeze and management’s desire to close the final salary pension scheme.
The compulsory redundancies are to take effect from Sunday, so there is an urgent need for other groups of workers to back this fight.
The attacks are coming from a profitable company.
Fujitsu staff in Northern Ireland struck on Tuesday of this week, while those in England, Scotland and Wales were to take action on Wednesday.
They were to lobby their MPs in parliament on the day.
The union has four more days of strikes – on Friday of this week, Monday and Friday of next week, and Monday 8 February.
Pressure is being stepped up on the company in other ways.
Twenty two MPs have signed an early day motion supporting the workers. Unite sponsors over 160 Labour MPs.
Strikers received their first visit from an MP last week.
Incredibly, the MP in question was Edward Timpson, the Tory MP for Crewe & Nantwich.
Many are wondering why Labour MPs haven’t visited picket lines.
The union last week fought off an attempt by Fujitsu to force it to withdraw the notice of action on a legal technicality.
Workers are demanding that Fujitsu negotiates properly with Unite.
They are determined to keep up their fight until a deal, acceptable to members, is reached.
Alan Jenney, a Unite rep in Crewe, said, “The strike is gathering pace. We had the largest number of people picketing yet on Friday of last week, with 24 members outside the building.
“People feel that the company has not really responded to us.
“We could do with a bit more publicity from the national side of things.
“Edward Timpson MP attended our picket line on Friday to get the views of members on the dispute.
“In some ways that’s surprising, but it’s a shame that that the local Labour candidate hasn’t been down to talk to us.”
John Garvani, a Unite rep in Wakefield, said, “The strike has opened a lot of people’s eyes. They see a profitable company that is not negotiating with the union about the issues behind the dispute.
“The next few days have an extra importance as the remaining compulsory redundancies take effect on 31 January.
“There are less than 100 people at risk from this now, and you would think that a company with 11,500 staff could absorb that number of people.
“It’s not as if we’re short of work for people to do.
“The strike is having an effect on the company. In Wakefield some of the desks for customers are being staffed by a small amount of people on strike days.
“This will be having an effect on the major high street retailers we do work for.”
Unite needs to make this dispute, which is about issues that matter to millions of workers, a key priority for the union.
It should also be putting pressure on its sponsored MPs to support the early day motion and the workers’ fight.
Fujitsu workers are planning campaign and solidarity meetings around the country on 8 February, which should be a key date in trade unionists’ diaries.