HP focuses on "critical" work as strikes continue

HP has prioritised critical projects as it tries to mitigate the impact of the two-day strike by members of the Public and Commercial Services (PCS) Union.

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HP has prioritised critical projects as it tries to mitigate the impact of the two-day strike by members of the Public and Commercial Services (PCS) Union.

"Also, as a global company, we have got enough resources in the company that we need to continue operating," a HP spokesperson said.

It is not clear whether the company and the union are negotiating on the dispute. HP said, "We are in constant communication with PCS." However, Jim Hanson, national officer at PCS, said that while the union is in touch with HP, nothing has been "formally scheduled for negotiations."

"We haven't had any talks since the week before last," he said. But he added: "If management comes up with a serious offer we would be happy to discuss it with them."

Union members began a 48-hour strike at HP yesterday over a dispute over job security and pay.

Those taking part in the strike include staff working for HP Enterprise Services in Newcastle, Washington, Preston and the Fylde Coast. The strike action affects work at the Department for Work and Pensions, the Ministry of Defence, and car manufacturer Vauxhall.

Mark Serwotka, PCS general secretary, said: "It is disgraceful that staff should be treated in such a way, as they shoulder greater workloads to help generate good profit levels.

"The company needs to start valuing all staff and recognise the crucial part they play in its success by giving guarantees on job security and a fair pay rise."

The dispute centres on pay freezes, 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 the year.

The strikes are taking place as non-IT workers in the civil service, also in the PCS union, stage simultaneous high profile action affecting a range of central government and judicial services.

The dispute between PCS and HP has been going on since December 2009, when HP narrowly avoided a strike by union members by agreeing to sit down to talks at the eleventh hour.

After a one-day strike in January, Hanson said the union had had a couple of meetings with the mediation organisation Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (ACAS), but that HP "wasn't willing to move far enough."

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