Fujitsu denies discrimination allegations as new strike hits

Fujitsu has provided new information on staff targeted for redundancy, following claims by the Unite union of possible racial or sexual discrimination.

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Fujitsu has provided new information on staff targeted for redundancy, following claims by the Unite union of possible racial or sexual discrimination.

Unite today began another strike over planned redundancies and changes to pensions. Major Fujitsu contracts, including Marks & Spencer, Vodafone, the Home Office, HM Revenue & Customs, the Financial Services Authority, and the Post Office, have been targetted.

The strikes were “bound to have affected” some of Fujitsu’s customers, according to Iain Smith, of IT human resources consultancy Diaz Research. He told Computerworld UK: “What companies need to remember is that just because they outsource, it doesn’t mean they lose their HR issues.”

HMRC said it had put "contingency plans" into place. The Post Office said "none" of its IT infrastructure had been affected so far. M&S, Vodafone, the Home Office and the FSA did not immediately comment on whether their IT services had been hit.

The discrimination allegation, if proved, could be embarrassing for Fujitsu, since equal opportunities policies are part of many of its contracts, particularly with the public sector.

Fujitsu said it was “disappointed” in the accusations of discrimination because it continues to act in the interests of equal opportunities, and has always been forthcoming with answers to the union's concerns.

A spokesperson reiterated that the company “would not dream of discriminating” against certain staff, and was judging redundancies based on skill.

In a carefully worded statement, Unite had raised questions over “major discrepancies” it found in the redundancy selection criteria, with the apparent targeting of more non-white and female staff for redundancy than white males. Data had only been provided from Fujitsu's application services division.

The initial day of strike action, in December, marked the first ever national strike in an IT company’s UK operations. It was followed by two days of strikes last week, and one on Monday this week.

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