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By | Paul Kunert 7th September 2011 06:00

NOA: Fujitsu strike highlights perils of single-supplier deals

Period of discontent predicted as unions get busy

The National Outsourcing Association (NOA) is calling for organisations to use multiple suppliers in the wake of planned industrial action at Fujitsu that will impact HMRC, the Office of National Statistics and the DVLA.

The industry body reckons that greater instances of strikes in the current economic climate are a threat to businesses that rely on a single outsourcing provider and is urging a strategic re-think.

"It seems the current austerity measures may be leading to a period of discontent. Some organisations deploying outsourcing or shared services may be concerned about industrial action within their suppliers," said NOA chairman Martyn Hart.

An effective contingency plan could be to split outsourcing between various suppliers to mitigate the risk of any potential service interruption.

"A joint contract between a group of SMEs can be an effective way to spread risk thinly," Hart added.

The Public and Commercial Services union last month balloted members at Fujitsu to gauge their reaction to an "insultingly low" pay offer made by the vendor which the union claimed was between 1.5 per cent to 2.5 per cent.

The results emerged last week with around 63 per cent of the 720 PCS members at Fujitsu turning out for the process, with 65 per cent voting for a strike while 85 per cent backed other forms of industrial action.

PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka said some of the Fujitsu employees balloted were paid less than execs could make in yearly bonuses.

"These staff support essential public services and it is time ministers stopped washing their hands of issues like low pay among contractors."

A Fujitsu spokesman told The Reg: "Fujitsu is disappointed that PCS chose not to ask its members to vote on our pay offer before choosing to ballot for industrial action. We consider the pay offer made to PCS members to be fair and competitive in the current markets.

"We are committed to having open dialogue with PCS to resolve this dispute and to be able to implement a pay review for PCS members."

He added that the firm is "confident" customers will not be hit by the industrial action, saying "we have robust contingency plans in place to ensure this". ®

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