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Company accused of bullying union rep

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IT union Amicus expects up to 300 members working for Fujitsu in Central Park, Manchester to strike on Thursday and Friday this week, following a protracted dispute over pay and conditions.

Fujitsu is also embroiled in a row with Amicus members over its decision to invoke disciplinary procedures against a union rep at the site.

From Central Park the IT services giant handles IT infrastructure services for the Department of Work and Pensions, the Home Office, HM Revenue & Customs, H&M, the Magistrates Courts, Marks & Spencers and Vodafone. It is unclear what impact a strike will have on clients.

This week Ian Allinson, the senior Amicus representative at Central Park, will face a disciplinary meeting called by Fujitsu, because he was accompanied by a fellow union rep acting as a witness in an earlier meeting with the company. Allinson had been told to attend that meeting without a rep.

"I've been at the company 17 years and never even had a warning," he said.

Fujitsu notified Allinson of disciplinary action against him on the same day in December that it abandoned talks over pay and conditions with Amicus and ACAS (the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service).

"They should be trying to resolve the dispute, instead of trying to punish the people who represent the workforce," Allinson said.

An unspecified number of Amicus members went out on strike at Fujitsu over the same issue in November. Fujitsu subsequently agreed to talks, and Amicus suspended a two-day strike, Allinson said. The suspension was lifted when Fujitsu walked away from ACAS talks.

Amicus says Fujitsu refuses to recognise about 300 employees at Central Park who think they should be covered by union-negotiated pay and conditions. Fujitsu has almost completed a move of staff from West Gorton, also in Manchester and notes that, contractually, union recognition applies to this site only, Amicus says.

Amicus also rejects Fujitsu's plan reduce the notice period for employee relocations or redundancies from 90 to 30 days. The pay dispute concerns different rules being applied to different people. Also, pay rises are ostensibly in line with inflation, but according to Amicus, are in reality conditional on more work being taken on.

"It's a whole culture where they don't keep their promises to staff and that's feeding the bitterness towards them," said Allinson.

Talks with Fujitsu went nowhere because the firm refused to do anything until the dispute over recognition had gone its way, he added. So ACAS proposed sending the question of recognition to arbitration, where it would be decided for them. Fujitsu refused and walked away from the talks, according to Allinson.

A Fujitsu spokesman declined to comment on the details of the dispute, citing confidentiality. But he said the talks "weren't going anywhere, so we see the use in continuing them. There didn't seem to be any common ground".

He said Fujitsu was "not not" recognising Amicus members. (The dispute is over Fujitsu's refusal to recognise members, as well as pay and redeployment, said Allinson). The Fujitsu spokesman also said the firm was ready to return to talks "when there is something to discuss". ®

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