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Updated Hewlett-Packard workers have voted in favour of strike action in the UK, following a ballot among members of the Unite union who complained about 150 customer engineers being shunted over to a subsidiary company.

Unite said 77 per cent of members at HP voted for a staff walkout, while 85 per cent called on "action short of strike action".

HP's 150 customer engineers and support specialists, who deal with some of the IT services firm's big name clients, were transferred over to HP CDS on 1 November.

Unite claimed last month that HP was removing pay and pension benefits, including a performance bonus scheme worth up to £2,000 and a final salary pension scheme.

A date for strike action is yet to be determined, said Unite. Its members will meet next week to plot their next move after the union claimed talks with HP had failed to get off the ground.

“The overwhelming vote for strike action demonstrates the strength and depth of feeling amongst Unite members," said Unite national officer for IT and communications Peter Skyte.

“This is likely to be the first of more industrial action in HP, unless the company rethinks its policy of attacking the terms and conditions of its workforce as a sacrificial offering on the altar of stock exchange driven short term financial targets aimed at primarily enriching its senior executives."

He added that Unite hoped the dispute could be brought to an end without the need for a walkout.

Skyte slammed HP's "crass actions" and claimed the company was "trying to undermine the union and deal with employees individually on a matter that affects this group collectively”.

Earlier this week over 1,000 members of the Public and Commerical Services union working on government IT contracts for EDS HP began a strike ballot in a separate spat over job losses and pay. ®

Update

HP sent us this statement:

"The company respects the decision of the 98 employees that have voted in favour of local industrial action. We will continue to maintain a dialogue with the union in an attempt to avoid any form of action.

"In the event of any local industrial action, we would not expect any interference in service. In cooperation with our clients and the involvement of our company-wide global delivery capabilities, we will take the necessary measures to deliver the services that our clients require."

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