Socialist Worker

Fujitsu dispute reignites over sackings and attacks on union reps

Issue No. 2585

Victimised union rep Ian Allinson on the picket line in Manchester

Victimised union rep Ian Allinson on the picket line in Manchester (Pic: Socialist Worker)

Unite union members at IT firm Fujitsu could return to the picket lines in their long-running fight against sacking of workers including union reps. Up to 300 workers in Manchester are set to vote on further strikes in a ballot that ends on 10 January. 

They have already said in a consultative ballot that they are prepared to strike. This follows 27 days of strikes over the last year. 

The ballot comes after the failure of talks between Fujitsu bosses and Unite. The union is demanding that the firm halts the redundancy process for six workers and addresses its concerns about discrimination against union activists.

Agreement appeared to have been reached to pause the redundancies, but later this commitment was withdrawn. This company has now dismissed Saj Patel, who had worked at Fujitsu for over 17 years. 

The union says that at least three jobs in her department have been turned down by colleagues but not been offered to her. 

Unite national officer for the IT sector Louisa Bull said, “Not only does the company not want to listen, it has backtracked on commitments and its treatment of union representatives is highly alarming and discriminatory.  

“It looks now as if we are heading for further industrial action because this union will never accept this sort of behaviour from an employer.”

According to Unite, a majority of the six facing redundancy are from an ethnic minority and a majority have a disability. They include Unite reps Ian Allinson and Denis Morris. 

Another, Lynne Hodge, is not currently at risk of redundancy. But Unite says that Fujitsu's HR department is blocking implementation of an agreed resolution and have told colleagues not to work with her. 

According to the union Fujitsu promised employee representatives information about the equality impact of the redundancies, but are now keeping this secret. This follows allegations of discrimination in previous Fujitsu redundancy programmes.

Last week workers staged protests in Manchester against Saj Patel’s dismissal and in London against the victimisation of Ian Allinson. 

Over 2,100 people have signed an online petition against the victimisation of union reps at Fujitsu. 

Strikes can push the bosses back and Fujitsu workers need solidarity. 

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