HP staff vote to strike

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HP staff vote to strike

Paul Kunert

Unite members at Hewlett-Packard have voted in favour strike action over the transfer of 150 customer engineering workers and support specialists.

Results of the industrial action ballot have revealed that 77% of unionised employees at the vendor, some 98 staff have backed a walk out while 85% called for action short of a strike.

"The overwhelming vote for strike action demonstrates the strength and depth of feeling amongst Unite members," said Peter Skyte, Unite national officer for IT and communications.

The union said HP staffers were "angered by the company treating them with contempt" over the transfer on 1 November of some 150 techies and support bods to another HP company (HP CDS).

It said the firm had exploited weaknesses in current employment legislation to remove pay and pension benefits including a £2,000 bonus scheme and a final salary pension.

The timing and form of the revolt, as well as additional strike action will be discussed at a meeting next week in the absence of any conciliation by HP to discuss underlying pay and conditions issues.

Skyte said this is "likely" to be the first of more industrial action in HP unless the company re-evaluated its policy of"attacking" employees Ts&Cs to appease financial analysts on Wall Street and ultimately line the pockets of senior execs.

Only last week, Fujitsu struck an eleventh hour deal with Unite members within its integration arm a day before they were due to down tools.

Skyte said it was willing to resolve this dispute but HP had acted crassly by trying to undermine the union and divide and rule staff in dealing with them individually "on a matter that affects this group collectively".

Unite pointed out that in 2008, HP CEO Mark Hurd's compensation package was $43m, up 68% on the year earlier while IPG boss VJ Joshi's total rewards rose 81% to $22m. PSG head Todd Bradley and TSG bigwig Ann Livermore each made $21m, up 174% and 31% respectively and CFO Cathie Lesjak made $6m, up 48%.

The same team imposed 10% pay cuts for other executives and 5% for the rest of the HP workforce.

An HP spokeswoman said the company respected the decision of the 98 employees that voted in favour of industrial action but it would maintain dialogue with the union to avoid any form of strike.

"In the event of any local industrial action, we would not expect any interference in service," she added.

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