HP public sector strikes suspended

Talks succeed in delaying walkouts of 1,000 staff but union says it?s ?unlikely to be an end to the dispute?
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Hewlett-Packard has narrowly avoided fresh strikes in its Enterprise Services division, after holding last minute talks with trade union PCS in an attempt to pacify disgruntled staff.

Around 1,000 HP employees working on Government contracts were due to take part in two 48-hour stoppages on March 29th to 30th and April 6th and 7th, but the action was suspended following discussions with HP and mediation organisation Acas. The strikes were due to take place in five HPES locations across the north of England.

“What we’re looking for is honouring an agreement to an annual pay increase – HP imposed a pay freeze in 2009 and again for 2010,” said PCS national officer Jim Hanson. “We’re also looking for a job security guarantee. When HP took over (technology services firm) EDS in 2008 it had a two-year programme of 25,000 job cuts worldwide. Enough’s enough; people want some security.”

PCS members held a one-day strike at four HP Enterprise Services sites on January 22nd. Staff involved in the current dispute work on projects for Government departments such as the DWP in Newcastle, Washington, Preston, Lytham St Annes and Norcross.

“We only take strike action as a last resort and we tend to have very good relations with all the employers we deal with,” Hanson said. PCS national officer Paul Barnsley added that despite strikes being called off, “it’s unlikely to be an end to the dispute”.

HP was unavailable for comment.

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