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NHS IT fiasco workers threaten lunch-hour revolt over job cuts

Union to form picnic line over CSC redundancies

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Updated IT bods working on the car-crash NHS patient records project will stage a protest during Thursday lunchtime over compulsory redundancies at their employer, CSC.

As Computer Sciences Corporation's contract with Blighty's health service grinds to a messy end, the Virginia-based firm announced it will axe 500 jobs in the UK - 30 per cent of the workforce on the NHS computer disaster. CSC failed to live up to its promises to deliver a bang-up billion-pound electronic patient record system, and pulled out officially in December while refunding the NHS £1.8bn ($2.8bn).

But although the corp promised to avoid compulsory redundancies in February, CSC will lay off staff despite having enough voluntary redundancies to cover the job losses, according to trade union Unite.

Unite issued a statement to say its members at the CSC offices in Chesterfield, Chorley, Leeds and Solihull are walking out in protest for an hour at lunch on Thursday, adding: "CSC is insistent on issuing compulsory redundancy notices despite receiving sufficient number of volunteer requests to leave the company."

When the job cuts were announced an email sent by CSC management and seen by The Register said: "It is hoped to achieve a significant reduction without the need for compulsory redundancies."

Unite national officer Kevin O’Gallagher said: “We will now increase pressure on CSC to listen to its staff and to Unite’s proposals. We have put forward a detailed plan which will avoid any compulsory redundancies in the company.

“However, these plans have fallen on deaf ears. Our members are now taking to the streets to get their voice heard. As a union, we will do everything in our power to support these workers though this very uncertain time.”

CSC did not respond to a request for comment at time of publication. The hour-long protest is due to start at 1pm. ®

Updated to add

A CSC spokesman has got in touch to say the firm is trying to avoid compulsory redundancies, adding: "The consultation is ongoing with significant progress having already been made in this regard through a voluntary programme and redeployment, and we are hopeful of making still further progress."

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