Updated Nearly 1,350 HP Enterprise Services workers downed tools as part of multi-day industrial action in protest against the mass redundancy programme, at least according to the PCS trade union.
Industrial officer Alan Brown said up to 90 per cent of the union's 1,500 HPES members went on strike on Wednesday and Thursday this week, and will be "working to rule"* on Friday.
He told us the strikes would hit government departments where staff provide IT support including the Ministry of Justice, the Ministry of Defence and the Department for Work & Pensions.
"This [strike action] is a ticking time bomb in terms [of the] impact on IT systems," he claimed.
The monster process has already caused problems for HP, with the European Works Council suing the company last year claiming it had not offered requisite consultancy to staffers. It then climbed down and got back round the negotiating table.
Brown pointed out that half of the Enterprise Services staff in HP's Sheffield offices, some 124 people, have already been given the chop and tomorrow is their last day.
According to the PCS, HP is transferring those Sheffield roles to Newcastle and north of the border to Erskine to bag a multi-million pound grant from the Scottish government.
"Up to 90 per cent of our [HPES] members are taking action," said the PCS. Strikes have taken place at Cobalt, Newcastle, Lytham St Annes, Swansea and several sites in London.
Unite estimates that eight per cent, or 1,600, of HP's UK workforce are to get the boot by October 2014. The PCS reckons the figure will be between 1,300 and 1,500.
Brown said it is difficult to ascertain exactly how many people have already left the company.
"There are over 500 people going this business quarter," he said, adding that HP may have expunged around half of its overall target so far.
HP did not put forward a spokesman for interview, but sent us a statement:
"HP have a meeting scheduled with the PCS in early August at which it hopes dialogue with senior HP managers will lead to the dispute being resolved. In cooperation with our clients we have put together a plan to mitigate the impact of the two day action." ®
* Staff at the various sites will be "working to rule" tomorrow, which means a ban on overtime, and a refusal to provide knowledge transfer by anyone who is not specifically a trainer.
Since we published the story, HP has been in touch to contend that, by its count, fewer than 150 staffers had gone on strike. The company told us:
HP [can confirm] that less than 150 people turned out for PCS strike action on 24/25 July and minimal disruption was experienced. HP is engaged in talks with the PCS union and hopes dialogue will resolve the dispute. HP has plans in place to mitigate any impact on its clients and to ensure the smooth running of its services.