HP workers under shadow of the axe edge towards ballot box

Union PCS testing appetite for 'action short of strike action'

The Public and Commercial Services union is to ballot members working at HP over 600 planned job cuts to the services operation in the latest futile exercise to influence the company's decision making.

As world + dog knows, HP's Make It Better Programme to rationalise the workforce is due to conclude by the end of October, by which point the firm will have made redundant some 34k positions globally.

Europe is the last region to face the axe, with 7,100 layoffs planned for this fiscal – most of which are expected to come from Enterprise Service.as we previously revealed.

The brothers at PCS remain in consultation with HP management and reckon the impact on the North West branch will be "devastating" with 40 to 60 ABS roles remaining at the Lytham St Annes site.

"During the consultation, HP have announced their plans to migrate around 600 roles from various locations throughout the UK into their IDS (Industrial Delivery Sites) located at Cobalt on North Tyneside and Erskine," the PCS wrote in a letter to unionised HP members.

"HP have made it clear that the relocation of staff from affected sites is not their desired option and would prefer to continue to focus on a mass recruitment campaign which has already seen a large number of university graduates and Modern Apprentices being recruited at sites as as Cobalt," the letter claimed.

Some 400 roles alone are at risk of redundancy at the Lytham operation, the PCS said, and it has created a template for members to contact their local MP to protest against the changes.

The proposals were met by an "angry reaction" from members at meetings in Lytham and Warrington, the PCS said.

Members will be balloted at the PCS North West branch on action short of strike action "with the purpose of reaffirming the current industrial action. This will be the first in a possible series of ballots to resist these unnecessary jobs cuts", the union stated.

Once the mandate has been reaffirmed by members, the union will look at steps to bring these "savage cuts to a halt and management to the negotiating table".

"This could include a boycott of migration activities or some other form of work to rule… this situation is by no means constrained to the North West branch," it added.

But with the European Works Council in tatters, any wider industrial action would appear too late in the day to have a meaningful impact.

Sites in Hook and Swansea are expected to be hit by job cuts in the coming months, said PCS.

"Even HP's much renowned IDS sites at Erskine and Cobalt have been impacted with job losses during the first two quarters of this [financial] year [started 1 November], against a background of an accelerated recruitment campaign at those sites".

PCS said it wants to bring an end to job cuts, to offshoring and to HP hiring contractors, with a re-affirmation of the job security agreement and no compulsory redundancies.

There are around 1,500 PCS members working at HP, but PCS was unavailable at the time of writing to confirm how many members it has in the north west region at the vendor.

According to information from Unite, around 780 HP UK workers are to be made redundant by the end of this month, and the firm has refused to rule out creating those positions in lower cost areas of Europe.

An HP spokeswoman said the "proposed UK workforce management plan" is part of the "global multi-year productivity initiative" made public in May 2012.

"For our application services business in the UK, we have created a number of Regional Delivery Centres to bring together our teams for specific services and skillsets. This allows us to continue to drive innovation, to improve services for our clients and preserve competitiveness and provide better longer term career prospects for employees," HP stated.

She added there are no plans to close the Lytham St Annes site - El Chan understands a lease on the premises has been extended until 2018.

"We are committed to ongoing consultation with our social partners and will offer employees, whose roles are affected, a range of options including relocation, redeployment and support to obtain alternative employment as appropriate."

HP doesn't break out the regional numbers for Enterprise Services but in its fiscal Q1 ended January, the division's revenues declined seven per cent to $5.595bn. ®

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