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PCS members at Hewlett Parkard strike in Lytham St Annes and North Tyneside
Lytham St Annes
Around 600 PCS members working for Hewlett Packard (HP) were on strike on 22 January over demands for job security, pay and trade union recognition. The workers who used to work for the IT services giant EDS, are based at sites across the north of England including Newcastle, Washington, Preston, Lytham St Annes and Blackpool.
Ian Fitzpatrick, President PCS Commercial Sector
The action is in response to HP's decision to bypass collective bargaining agreements with the unions and impose a pay freeze for a second year running while continuing to make workers redundant.
The one day stoppage was aimed at sending a message to HP CEO Mark Hurd, that his draconian style of management is unacceptable in a modern workplace and is unacceptable to members of the PCS.
The industrial action, including an ongoing work to rule and overtime ban, has had an impact on the IT services provided by HP to customers such as the Department for Work and Pensions, Ministry of Defence and General Motors.
It is clear that HP are using the economic recession as an opportunity to claw back the gains made by workers over the years despite the company recently posting a profit jump of 18%. Workers in HP have helped the company to produce a profit of $2.4 billion over a recent 12 week period. Yet despite these massive profits the company continues to slash jobs and freeze pay while the bosses are paying themselves millions of dollars in bonuses that would make Sir Fred Goodwin look like a pauper!
One of the PCS strikers on the picket line at Lytham St Annes said: "The response by the membership to the strike action has been incredible when you consider the vast majority of staff have never been on strike before.
Members understand that the company continues to deliver record profits and that the recession caused by big business is being used as an excuse to drive down workers' wages. Our members have seen through the lies and we are not prepared to put up with such unfairness any longer".
Unless the company seriously engages with union representatives, it is expected that PCS will escalate action to include HP sites across the whole of the UK. Should the company continue on its current path, other trade unions are expected to take action that could lead to the prospect of HP workers across Europe taking part in a coordinated campaign of industrial action.
Hewlett Parkard strike on North Tyneside
Despite the cold and rain, picket lines at both entrances of Hewlett Parkard (HP) in North Tyneside were well attended with over 45 pickets. Phil Hickey, Civil Service Union (PCS) workplace representative, told The Socialist:
"Half of our branch of around 420 members were civil servants until work was outsourced by the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP). We've lost many of these members through redundancies. However, since then we've picked up members hired directly by the company."
Phil went on to explain that new members who've been taken on after the work was outsourced have no union recognition, but he said, "We're fighting for that recognition, and for a decent pay award for all our members."
Mel Campbell, said, "I'm very cold - but it's worth being here. HP make huge profits, but are refusing to give us a pay rise." Mel pointed out that it was 'despicable' that whilst Mark Hurd (HP CEO) has received $425,000 (US), "Our American counterparts have taken an enforced 25% pay cut last year, and another 25% cut this year."
Another striker, Alan Skinner, added, "We've been forced into taking this action. When HP took over they attacked our pay and conditions."
The strikers who spoke to the Socialist understood that they would have to be prepared to take more action to fight off attacks threatened by HP bosses. As one worker commented, "These lunatics are running the company the same way that Stalin run Russia - wanting to terrorise workers."
In The Socialist 27 January 2010:
Socialist Party election campaign
Socialist Party news and analysis
Socialist Party workplace news
Socialist Party feature
Workplace Feature: IT workers in mini strike wave