The Public and Commercial Services union is gearing up to test the appetite for industrial action among services staff at Hewlett Packard Enterprises over the latest round of planned job cuts.
Some 166 staff in HPE’s infrastructure outsourcing unit in Lytham that work on public sector contracts including the Department of Work and Pensions were last week put at risk of redundancy.
Peter Olech, national officer at the PCS, admitted previous industrial action had failed to halt workforce reductions but had bought the union and the vendor’s employees some time.
“It slowed down the process,” he told us, “the preparation work for a ballot is happening. We have written to HPE and want certain guarantees”.
HPE is consolidating regional delivery centres across the UK and longer term the plan seems to be to bulk out sites in Cobalt on the north-east coast and Erskine, north of the border.
The cuts are part of the wider re-org that will see up to 30,000 employees leave HPE over the next couple of years, with Enterprise Services targeted heavily.
The union said it wants assurances that any staff who might transfer to either of the two sites will do so under existing contractual Ts&Cs, and that HPE will not ask workers to provide a knowledge transfer”.
“It is galling for people to have the transfer skills to those that are effectively taking the jobs,” said Olech.
PCS reckons the Lytham delivery centre will no longer have IT outsource staff when the redundancies are completed, and services staff in Sheffield were largely moved out in 2015.
Under anti-trade union legislation, PCS needs to jump legal hurdles that will take a minimum of a month to do the ballot. The March/ April timeframe coincides with the second tranche of staff exits.
Ten HPErs have accepted voluntary redundancy, Olech claimed, but as yet no compulsory redundancies have taken place.
HP refused to comment. ®