HP faces major strike tomorrow

Government departments targeted by former EDS staff

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More than 1,000 HP staff in the Public and Commercial Services Union are set to strike tomorrow after talks to resolve a dispute over pay and job cuts broke down.

HP Enterprise Services workers taking part in the strike include those based in Newcastle, Washington, Preston and the Fylde Coast.

The action will target four sites working mainly on IT contracts for the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), the Ministry of Defence (MoD) and General Motors.

The workers’ complaint centres on a pay freeze imposed for this and next year, as well as on the 3,400 EDS staff who have been made redundant since HP took over the company in 2008, and the 1,000 job losses planned for the first half of this year.

Mark Serwotka, PCS general secretary, said: “Strike action is not a step that our members take lightly. They have worked hard to help the company deliver fourth quarter revenues of $30.8 billion yet have been slapped in the face with job losses and a pay freeze for two years running.”

Jim Hanson, national officer at PCS, said that the main disagreement with HP's offer is over pay, with HP offering to only remove the pay freeze for two years, rather than permanently.

Also, Hanson said that HP is refusing to recognise staff they hired directly as being part of the PCS talks, despite them also being members.

According to HP, 288 union members rejected the company’s latest offer and voted to continue with the planned strike.

“We are disappointed to confirm that a small number of employees have voted in favour of local industrial action on Friday. A reasonable offer was put on the table by HP, in response to the union’s requests, however this was rejected without a counter offer being proposed by the union,” HP said.

“We will continue to maintain a dialogue with the union in an attempt to avoid any further form of action.”

The company also said that it has put a plan in place to deal with the impact of the strike action, including reducing non-urgent project work and moving resources to prioritise critical work.

In December, HP narrowly avoided a strike by PCS members by agreeing to sit down to talks at the eleventh hour. HP was then due to meet with the union on December 16 to try and reach a settlement for workers.

Last week, HP averted nine strike days that were due to be undertaken by customer service engineers in its CDS business, by agreeing to a confidential deal on pay and pensions with trade unions.

Computerworld UK understands that this agreement addressed some of the employee concerns around the potential scrapping of a £2,000 performance bonus scheme and a final salary pensions. However, neither HP nor the Unite trade union gave details of these discussions.

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