IT GIANT Fujitsu are the latest company to step up their union-busting campaigns, which have been on the increase – with Grangemouth and Picturehouse disputes just two high-profile examples that saw trade union reps victimised for organising workers.
On 12 January Fujitsu Manchester sacked Ian Allinson, chair of Unite At Fujitsu, recent left candidate in Unite’s general secretary elections, and an activists with 30 years experience at the company. They did so by email, while Ian was on compassionate leave attending a family funeral, and while he had an outstanding job application within the company’s redeployment scheme.
Even that he was in a restructure, where his original job was “deleted” was a farce, as it involved so few people. But this is part of a trend. Fujitsu has sacked nine members of staff since 6 December: one having an outstanding grievance over sexual harassment; and another given three days notice of his dismissal on New Year’s Eve.
The bosses know what they are doing. Allinson has been a thorn in their side as they try and cut 1,800 jobs (many already lost) from their UK operations. Last Spring, Ian led the campaign to stop the cuts, which resulted in 15 days of strike action across the UK and a further 12 in Manchester. No wonder Fujitsu denied him the right to work out his notice.
Unite @ Fujitsu has won a ballot for strike action at its Manchester offices, calling for an end to compulsory redundancies and the victimisation of reps, as well as the restoration of grievance and appeals procedures. They are specifically calling for Ian’s reinstatement.
After three successful strike days in January, Unite members are due to walk out for a week starting on 8 February. On 26 January, they joined 150 other strikers from Mears housing contractors and First bus drivers in a rally in Piccadilly Gardens.
The strikers urgently need support, including the balloting of the rest of Unite’s Fujitsu membership. Unite has to use its influence in the Labour Party to push for the nationalisation without compensation of all companies operating witch-hunts against union activists.
After the ignominious collapse of Carillion, Fujitsu is further proof that private service companies exist to screw councils and government departments, and the workforce that makes their millions in profit. Time for the unions and Labour to challenge and change Britain’s privatisation culture and for a Corbyn government to pass a comprehensive charter of union rights to outlaw victimization and union-busting.