Fujitsu’s selection criteria for making staff redundant has been described by union Unite as potentially discriminatory against women, part-time and ethnic minority workers.
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Today is the fourth of a six day strike by the integrator’s 983 unionised employees, the majority of which have voted for industrial action over proposed job cuts, pay freezes in 2009 and the closure of a final salary pension scheme.
Unite said it had uncovered “major discrepancies” in the scoring system used by Fujitsu as male colleagues did proportionately better than female, part time and non-white colleagues in the Application Services capability unit.
It found that 6.7% of women were selected for redundancy compared to 3.7% of men, 10.4% of Indians were chosen versus 3.9% for all other groups and 9.1% of part time workers against 3.9% of full time staffers.
Data for the other five parts of the company which faced redundancy was denied to Unite, the union said.
“We are disturbed to find that a disproportionate number of women, part-time and ethnic minority workers appear to have been selected for redundancy at Fujitsu, but have had no meaningful response from the company to our queries on this,” said Peter Skyte, Unite national officer for IT and communications.
He added, “This further strengthens our case for a fairer, open and more transparent pay system which we also suspect may be masking potential discrimination.”
Further walk outs are planned for 14 and 15 January despite Fujitsu making some concessions to disgruntled employees; it reduced the number of planned redundancies from 1,200 to 876, including 586 that left voluntarily and deferred changes to the pension scheme until December 2010.
A spokesman at Fujitsu said it was “disappointed” by Unite’s allegations and had consulted on the proposed selection criteria with elected employee and union reps throughout the collective redundancy programme.
“We are aware of the points raised by Unite and have responded detailing our reasons as to why we are confident our selection process was fair and was not discriminatory,” he said.