HP techies reject latest pay offer, closer to industrial action

Nearly 3:1 vote against 1% hike in salary

Unionised engineers at HP Customer Delivery Services - which provides support for customers including Barclays, BT and Tesco - have moved a step closer to industrial action after rejecting its latest pay offer.

HPCDS is a wholly owned subsidiary of the company and effectively came about through the acquisition of third-party maintainer Synstar in 2004.

The in-house techies provide various services including maintenance on servers and storage nationwide for HP, IBM, Oracle/Sun and Dell.

A consultative ballot conducted by post was undertaken by union Unite and 70 per cent of members, based on a 77 per cent turnout, voted against the one per cent pay hike offered by the vendor.

HP had also told engineers that those who exceeded performance expectations would get a one per cent one-off bonus, while solid performers were offered a 0.72 per cent one-off bonus.

And for those HPers that comply with a list of security clearance criteria an annual windfall of £280 was offered by the company.

In a note sent to HP members, Andy McDowall, Unite regional officer, said he will ask the Reps Committee to find out whether HP will "reopen negotiations or consider conciliation with ACAS on this matter".

"Should that not be the case or if the employer does wish to re-engage, a fully postal industrial action ballot will be organised as soon as possible," he said in the letter dated 4 July.

This was the second pay offer from HP, said a source close to the process, who added:

"Many engineers have had very little in the way of salary increases over the last 10 years but we have seen all our 'benefits' removed to the point where many of us are worse off financially than several years ago. Many are working vast amounts of overtime just to get by."

The source claimed HP had placed "undue pressure" and made "veiled threats" that if "costs are not squeezed down to a bare minimum" it will "take the work elsewhere".

The union has not set a target offer for pay, say our sources, but it is clear neither the union nor the members like what HP has put on the table to date.

HP declined to comment. ®

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