Union accuses Fujitsu of job cut discrimination

Fujitsu Services logo

The Unite Union has again come out swinging for Fujitsu Services, claiming there are "major discrepancies" in the way the IT services firm is selecting staff for redundancy.

The union's members are part of the way through a six-day strike protesting against hundreds of job cuts, a pay freeze and pension changes at Fujitsu.

Unite said it was "calling into question" whether more women, part-time and ethnic minority workers were being made redundant at the firm than other employees.

Peter Skyte, Unite national officer for IT and communications, said: "We are disturbed to find that a disproportionate number of women, part-time and ethnic minority workers appear to have been selected for redundancy at Fujitsu, but have had no meaningful response from the company to our queries on this."

"This strengthens our case for a fairer, open and more transparent pay system which we also suspect may be masking potential discrimination," he added in a statement.

The union's statistics claim that the firm's Application Services unit made 6.7 per cent of women redundant, compared to 3.7 per cent of men, and laid off 10.4 per cent of Indian employees compared to 3.9 per cent of all workers from other ethnicities.

Part-time employees were also more likely to be axed, with 9.1 per cent being made redundant compared to 3.9 per cent of full-time workers.

To prove its point, Unite noted that just 4.46 per cent of women in the department were marked by the firm as having the top level of "critical skills" and therefore more likely to be kept around. More than 18 per cent of men were given that same score.

Unite noted: "The probability of this distribution happening by chance in an unbiased scoring is 0.00000002 per cent (about one in 40,000,000). This is several times less likely than getting six numbers on the UK Lotto on the first attempt."

Unite said it could only analyse the job cuts at that one department of 1,500 workers because Fujitsu would not provide data for the other departments facing layoffs.

A Fujitsu Services spokesman told IT PRO that any decisions on redundancies are made "purely based on skills we wish to keep within the company," adding that there were "extra measures in place to ensure there isn't a "particular skew" against any one group.

He added that the number of job losses has actually fallen from the 1,200 originally announced to 876, of which 586 were voluntary redundancies.

Fujitsu Services added in a statement: "We are very disappointed that Unite has made these allegations. As an equal opportunities employer Fujitsu consulted on the proposed selection criteria with elected employee representatives and with representatives of its recognised trade unions (including Unite) throughout the collective redundancy programme and is confident that no discrimination resulted."