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Fujitsu Strike Birmingham: You can have your Logo but hands off our jobs!

russ spring & brum wobbly | 10.06.2008 12:16 | Workers' Movements | Birmingham

Fujitsu workers from the Communication Workers Union (C.W.U.) went on strike yesterday and picketed the Birmingham telecommunications plant in the blazing sun to protest against losing their jobs. 140 jobs are destined to go if Fujitsu decides to end production in Birmingham and take their work to Texas in the United States. If it hadn't been for the picket outside we wouldn't have found the site at Birmingham Business Park as management had taken the company’s logo down at the entrance of the plant just before the strike claiming it needed cleaning, whilst workers were convinced that the corporation wanted to keep any bad publicity to an absolute minimum.

Where's that Fujitsu plant in Birmingham?
Where's that Fujitsu plant in Birmingham?

Ah there it is, behind those striking Fujitsu workers!
Ah there it is, behind those striking Fujitsu workers!

Just six weeks before the announcement that jobs would go, Gordon Brown visited the Fujitsu factory with Home Secretary Jacqui Smith and praised the company for its 'migrant labour policies'. The 90 day notice of job losses came as a shock to workers who know that according to the corporation's benchmarks, the quality of their work is very high compared to other plants in Japan and the United States.

Fujitsu claims it isn’t profitable to keep production here in the UK, so it’s planning to move production out to a sister company called FNC in the US. Rather than demanding no jobs are lost, union representatives have been in talks with management over moving working shifts down to a single shift and introducing more ‘flexible working hours' in order to lose around forty to fifty jobs and keep a manufacturing base going in the UK. Whilst Fujitsu's bosses are saying no decision has been made to move to the US, preparations appear to be already underway. One of the production line workers claimed yesterday that spare parts for machines are already being packed away ready for transit. Fujitsu is planning to move the more technologically advanced machinery, that according to workers can produce virtually any printed circuit board on the market, from Birmingham to the United States.

Fujitsu’s main customer is British Telecom although it does very limited work for AOL, but orders from British Telecom have fallen. Fujitsu’s over reliance on just one contract with British Telecom and it's reluctance to diversify and develop new markets has put it's workers in a precarious position. Workers on the picket reported that they are now entering into a so-called ‘buffer stock’ production stage, where workers are set to produce a surplus in order to fill the demand for British Telecoms limited orders whilst production is transferred. One worker commented that this was like asking workers to build their own coffins.

Back in 2001 the company made mass redundancies and started employing agency workers who they can hire and fire as demand for their products goes up and down. Apart from the day’s strike action yesterday, workers have also taken up a stance of none-cooperation with the move. Yesterday's strike has been timed to influence a Fujitsu UK board meeting which will give it’s recommendations to Fujitsu board in Japan where the final decision will be taken.

Some of the strikers had attended a TUC conference in Liverpool calling for support from the trade union movement. Workers who are on strike won't receive any wages and need financial support from other unions. The strike was voted for unanimously with only one worker voting against industrial action, and despite Fujitsu's bosses removing the company's logo from the site entrance, the picket received lots of support from passing motorists. After the UK board meeting future actions may be planned.

russ spring & brum wobbly
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Fujitsu strike video

14.06.2008 21:15

Newsreel from the Fujitsu strike in Birmingham including interviews with workers on the picket.

russ spring & brum imcista


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  1. Problem with video — wobbly in the blood