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Unionised workers vote to become thorn in HP's side

Application Services folk fear 400 job relocations, PCS seeks 'leverage'

Life of Brian

Some HP workers in the Application Services (AS) division based at Lytham and Warrington have voted against plans to relocate 400 roles to regional delivery centres.

According to numbers from HP and the Public and Commercial Services (PCS) union, 99 of the 331-strong base of unionised workers at the two sites returned a ballot paper, with 83 voting in favour of industrial action short of strike action.

"We want to work constructively with HP to mitigate against compulsory job losses and to create packages for people that want to relocate," Peter Olech, PCS industrial officer told El Chan.

He told us the action, which PCS designed to disrupt the relocation, includes staff refusing to cooperate with the "knowledge transfer" - the process required to move work from one area to another.

PCS hopes the action will give it some "leverage to negotiate" the best possible terms for "all people".

In a process that began last year, HP has cranked up delivery centres in Newcastle and one north of the border in Erskine. It plans to house all AS people in these offices rather than having them dotted across the country.

The PCS claimed the "vast majority" of AS folk will not be offered the opportunity to relocate or be redeployed within HP.

In response, HP said this is not correct.

The latest move is wrapped up in the global "Make It Better" programme that will see a total of 34,000 people leave the company by the end of October.

HP recently announced that up to another 16,000 individuals are also expected to leave the organisation. Both the PCS and Unite are testing the appetite for industrial action.

In a statement sent to us, an HP spokeswoman said:

"We are disappointed that a limited number of employees have voted in favour of local industrial action at our Lytham and Warrington offices."

She added HP is consulting with "social partners" and employees whose roles are affected, to offer "relocation, redeployment and support to obtain alternative employment as appropriate".

HP claimed the regional delivery centres allow it to "drive innovation, to improve service for our clients, preserve competition one provide better longer term career prospects for employees".

The move also undoubtedly helps HP cut some costs by consolidating centres, which is what was hinted as by preserving competition.

The AS staff work on contracts for the Department for Work and Pensions and the Ministry of Justice. ®

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