Don’t add insult to injury to Belfast redundancies, Fujitsu urged

Telecoms & Financial Services

Fujitsu is being urged to rethink its “penny-pinching” decision to pay nothing more than statutory redundancy terms to loyal workers in Belfast who’ve stuck with the company through thick and thin –  but have now reached the end of the road on account of the impending closure of their site.

Despite Fujitsu’s track record of paying enhanced severance terms to employees in site closure situations – and the fact that just in January this year the group in question were specifically discouraged from applying for an incentivised voluntary exit scheme on account of the then profitable nature of their work – the small but intensely loyal group of CWU members are set to receive just legal minimum redundancy payouts when their site closes on April 15.

The closure of the Belfast site has been prompted by BT’s decision earlier this year not to renew a longstanding contract for the maintenance and repair of 21CN equipment – despite earlier speculation there would be a three-year extension. That bombshell was all the more painful for the eight CWU members impacted  given it was only in 2016 that they  successfully fought to defend their jobs – ultimately transferring to  Belfast following the closure of the  company’s Antrim factory in 2016.

Despite recognising this latest closure cannot be fought, the tight-knit team had initially assumed that unwritten rules of corporate decency would dictate that they would at least be offered the 25% enhancement to statutory terms plus a special bonus of between 2-4 weeks pay that Fujitsu had offered at the time of the Antrim closure.

Yet, despite intensive local and national CWU efforts to negotiate such an outcome, the company has so far steadfastly refused.

Just before the Bank Holiday weekend, CWU national officer for Fujitsu, Davie Bowman, wrote to the company’s Head of Delivery, Hamish Woodhead reiterating the powerful case for a rethink.

“The closure announcement represented devastating news for our members, especially during a global pandemic,” Davie argued.

“Appearing to be penny pinching when it comes to compensating loyal employees in this manner simply beggars belief,” he continued. “Our members have delivered outstanding customer service and have represented the company faultlessly, so to be treated in this manner in the final days of employment is nothing short of disgraceful in our view.”

To date the only response from the company has been to confirm that none of those being laid off will need to work out their notice periods.

Davie stresses: “Given just six individuals are involved – following the success of two of our members in applying for alternative work in the company – the cost to Fujitsu of ‘doing the right thing’ would be miniscule. Even now I’d urge the company to show some compassion and decency.”

Lead Belfast rep Stuart Dawkins concludes: “After over 20 years with Fujitsu I’m disappointed with the situation we’re in with the company treating us as if we’re nothing more than numbers – trying to do everything they can to avoid paying a fair amount to dedicated and loyal employees.

“This has tarnished my view of Fujitsu, because even though they profess to be “driven by their people” we do not see this. Currently their only motivation would appear to be greed.”