The UK's leading trade union for IT professionals has struck a landmark voluntary recognition deal with outsourcing giant Computer Sciences Corporation (CSC).
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The voluntary recognition agreement was announced yesterday (Wednesday), between CSC and the Manufacturing Science Finance union (MSF) at the TUC conference in Glasgow.
From next month, the agreement will cover about 7,000 employees in the UK. Both parties claimed the agreement is the first of its kind.
The deal is a major coup for the MSF in an IT sector that has been previously hostile to union membership.
Outsourcing experts believe the deal could help usher in a new era for unions in the sector. The MSF also believes that companies will increasingly award contracts to suppliers with the same union recognition policies, to help retain and motivate IT staff.
Roger Spiller, MSF's national secretary for IT, said, "CSC has seen the value of union recognition when bidding for work with a client that also recognises the union."
The MSF will be discussing skills training and pay with CSC, Spiller added.
The CSC announcement comes as employers are under increasing pressure to recognise trade unions. The Employment Relations Act, which came into force in June, requires employers to recognise a union if it can prove that the majority of the workforce are members.
Robert Morgan, chief executive at outsourcing consultancy Morgan Chambers, said MSF's key challenge would be to ensure that employers give members the latest training, rather than recruit overseas IT staff to plug skills gaps.