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Unite ballots HP members for industrial action

Warwick Ashford

UK union Unite is to ballot members for industrial action over the planned transfer and benefit cuts for 150 customer engineers and support staff at Hewlett-Packard (HP) IT services.

HP plans to transfer staff to another company, HP CDS, on 1 November and strip current pay and pension benefits.

According to Unite, these benefits include a performance bonus scheme worth up to £2,000 and a final salary pension scheme.

This is the first time HP employees in the UK have been asked to vote on industrial action. It follows a vote for industrial action among workers in a consultative ballot carried out earlier this month.

Peter Skyte, Unite national officer, said Unite members have no choice but to begin ballot for industrial action in the face of pension and pay cuts.

"This is the latest in a series of attacks by the company on our members' pay and conditions, while senior executives and shareholders do very well indeed," he said.

Unite remains willing to seek a resolution to this dispute with HP, said Peter Skyte, but not on the basis that one employee's pay cut results in a HP executive's pay and bonus increase.

The ballot result is expected in mid-November.

The proposed cuts come just months after services staff of acquired firm EDS were told of a 5% cut to their pay as part of HP's cost-cutting programme.

HP said its IT services division will implement a number of measures to transform its businesses. This will drive efficiencies across the company to ensure it remains competitive, HP said.

In August, HP staff already facing voluntary pay cuts as part of the firm's cost-cutting plan, were told of plans for further involuntarily cuts to pay and benefits.

Unite said at the time that HP employees who are not protected by union membership "face exposure to a hurricane of cuts in pay and conditions from an ever-more rapacious company".

Unions and the HP EDS European Works Council (EWC) have advised staff to say no to voluntary pay cuts, but workers will have no say on other cuts being made to their benefits.

According to the EWC at the time, HP was planning cuts to pension plans, severance packages, annual leave, healthcare benefits and a freeze on salaries where possible.


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