back to article Trade union threatens work-to-rule action over HPE Lancashire job cuts

The Public and Commercial Services trade union has - as expected - opened a ballot calling for work-to-rule action over HPE's plans to axe 166 jobs in Lancashire. Staff at HPE’s infrastructure outsourcing unit in Lytham who work on public sector contracts, including business for the Department of Work and Pensions, were put at …

  1. AMBxx Silver badge
    Mushroom

    When will unions learn?

    Strinking just makes outsourcing overseas more attractive. The staff have been treated badly, but threatening industrial action just means there'll be fewer staff in the future.

    The good ones will have left by now anyway.

    1. wolfetone Silver badge

      Re: When will unions learn?

      Oh to be back in the 1800's when the boss could make workers do whatever he saw fit, and sack them on the spot if they didn't - or couldn't - do what was asked.

      We have rights as workers for a reason. If the workers didn't have a voice, didn't have a way to express their opinion regarding a decision made by management in a way they can understand, we would all be working in a coal mine for 16 hours a day.

      Unions work. Period.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: When will unions learn?

        Perhaps more 6 of one and half a dozen of the other.

        There's a classic old tale (or urban myth ?) of when Ford (UK) wanted to change the production line or had a slow down in orders they would engineer an argument over tea breaks (cutting them) so the workers went out on strike and didn't have to be paid.

        British industrial relations in the 60s/70s were shockingly confrontational with both unions and management of equal blame, meanwhile our competitors in Japan and Germany happily sat around the table together and got on with the job of getting the product right for export.

      2. LucreLout

        Re: When will unions learn?

        @wolfetone

        Unions work. Period.

        Yes, there's not a single instance I can think of where they've not worked in their members interests at all.....

        Aside from coal, ship building, car manufacturing, dock working, etc etc The list is, let's be honest, as long as it is depressing.

        Was there a time when we needed unions? Yes, absolutely, before health and safety laws for example. But then, there was a time when nature needed dinosaurs, and that time too has passed.

        The saddest thing is that most union members simply don't understand the dynamics of how unions work and why they operate in the cackhanded manner that they do. Unions are commercial organisations competing with each other for your subscriptions, and they no more have your interests at heart than does your telco; in both cases you're their revenue.

        If you're a capable, credible employee you should be able to stand on your own and interact with management individually. The deadwood can't, which is why they prefer unions, because unions will protect them just the same for as long as they can make revenue off them.

      3. AMBxx Silver badge
        Megaphone

        Unions work. Period.

        Tell that to the steelworkers, the miners, the dockers, the print workers.

        If it had been up to the unions, we'd be typesetting this page on with hot metal in Fleet Street.

      4. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: When will unions learn?

        "we would all be working in a coal mine for 16 hours a day."

        Strange then that as soon as Thatcher fixed the unions, people largely seemed to stop working in a coal mine...

    2. Bob Vistakin
      Facepalm

      That's shocking

      "This includes an overtime ban, members only working for their contracted hours, taking full break entitlements and not covering for anyone else’s work."

      This is serious - they'll do exactly as the civil servants there do right now.

    3. Tonyd225

      Re: When will unions learn?

      It's action short of a strike - basically a work to rule. Contrary to your uninformed opinion the 'good ones' haven't left already due mainly to the location of the site.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: When will unions learn?

      The good ones have left already? Nice statement for people that are deadwood and have been shifted on or had the opportunity to choose voluntary redundancy to use. There are plenty of good hard working people here that do not deserve to be treated the way they have been since the HP takeover.

      Think about what you are saying, or maybe you are one of the deadwood people that had no choice to go and are bitter about it.

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: When will unions learn?

      "This includes an overtime ban, members only working for their contracted hours, taking full break entitlements and not covering for anyone else’s work"

      How considerate of union members to flag themselves for priority redundancy. Do HP still call it "project make it better" ?

    6. This post has been deleted by a moderator

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge
        Thumb Down

        Re: When will unions learn?

        "How considerate of union members to flag themselves for priority redundancy. Do HP still call it "project make it better" ?

        So when big corporates are in "trouble"* and point to contracts and laws and say "we are doing what we are legally obliged to do it's aright, but when the staff who work their choose to follow that same philosophy it's not aright? Really?

        [*] eg, selling shitty goods, getting into patent spats etc.

  2. Lysenko

    HPE’s lack of openness and unwillingness to make concessions...

    ...is par for the course for a private sector organisation, but a nasty shock for Civil Service unions.

    1. Tonyd225

      Re: HPE’s lack of openness and unwillingness to make concessions...

      'HPE’s lack of openness and unwillingness to make concessions...

      ...is par for the course for a private sector organisation, but a nasty shock for Civil Service unions.

      Is that a good thing then?

      1. Lysenko

        Is that a good thing then?...

        Giving Civil Service unions a shock? Definitely.

        Having worked for MOD, DoE and DTI (on the payroll, not as a contractor) I am absolutely in favour of giving the PCSU a cattle prod to the 'nads.

        Unfortunate for the staff, but if they had been operating in the real world they would be familiar with the fact that the average length of a "permanent" job is 4.6 years generally and less than that in the tech field.

  3. x 7

    " members only working for their contracted hours, taking full break entitlements and not covering for anyone else’s work"

    if that bunch of skivers did that, it would mean doubling their productivity

    it would be better phrased as " members actually working for their contracted hours, only full break entitlements and not interfering with anyone else’s work". I doubt it would happen though - too much of a shock to most of them getting out of bed that early

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Any you have proof?

    2. Tom 7 Silver badge

      Working to contract

      Amazing all these companies setting their workers examples by giving away their product for free above and beyond the contract. Apple just gave me three phones even though I only ordered one because they heard I needed to give my shareholders another Caribbean holiday!

    3. Tonyd225

      Mark Menzies the MP for Fylde disagrees with your assessment of the staff at Lytham, who he characterised as having ‘worked tirelessly in difficult conditions for many years' and who’s ‘expertise’ and ‘loyalty appear to count for nothing’.

  4. Tromos

    Jobs under threat.

    Trade union action. Just what is needed to convert a threat into a promise.

    1. Tonyd225

      Re: Jobs under threat.

      It's not a threat, it's a promise; the site is closing and the roles are being transferred to Erskine and Newcastle. The union action is aimed at raising awareness of HPE's treatment of it's staff and making the transition as awkward as possible.

      1. LucreLout
        Holmes

        Re: Jobs under threat.

        @Tonyd225

        In the interests of full disclosure, you've registered in the last couple of days and made exactly two posts, both on this issue. Union rep perchance?

        1. Tonyd225

          Re: Jobs under threat.

          I work at the affected site and have done so for the last 20+ years - first as a civil servant then as EDS and presently HPE employee. I have recently become union rep - within the last month - as all of the existing one have been made redundant. I have no axe to grind for PCS: I don't think they really understand the private sector management or workforce that well, but they are the only ones who are actually trying to prevent this from happening and who are giving us a voice. It was they that alerted this publication to the issue (and allowed all of you to vent your spleen so furiously). In case you think we are all pen pushers, lazy and stupid, as seems to be the case from the above posts, HPE are having a 'jobs fair' in NE to fill our positions and the skills they are advertising for are: Wintel engineers, Storage engineers, Virtualisation engineers, Integration engineers, Appsense SMEs, Active directory engineers, Lead engineers, Solution architects, Chief engineers, Citrix engineers, Software distribution Engineers, Automation engineers, Build Engineers, Peripheral Engineers, Backup Engineers, IT project Manager, Intermediate level PM, 2nd Line Remote Desktop , Support Consultant, Virtualisation Support Engineer, Wintel Infrastructure Support Engineer, 3rd Line Desktop and Operational Assurance Engineer, Software Delivery Engineer, Messaging and Collaboration Support Consultant, Software Asset Management Analyst, Hardware / Software Asset Management Analyst, Network Engineer, Network SME, Unix, Linux, Redhat and SQL Engineers, Network architect and Infrastructure Project Managers.

          So Sherlock, your deduction was correct. What's your brief?

          1. LucreLout

            Re: Jobs under threat.

            So Sherlock, your deduction was correct. What's your brief?

            It was a tad obvious, no?

            As regards for myself, what can I tell you, I work for a bank. Its not been any fun for a long time now, and it certainly isn't what you're thinking it is. Lots of hours, lots of real pressure, and lots of years now since anyone had a decent pay rise, or indeed, any rise at all. Oh, and we all get tarred with the same brush, making us about as popular as Jimmy Saviles party planner.

            Unions always destroy the industries and employers in which they reside. It's why they virtually don't exist in the real world anymore; mostly they're just confined to the state sector and various spin offs. Sadly, nobody at any union has ever paused to reflect upon why that might be. And none of them ever will.

            12 months after the closure of your site, contact your members and work out what percentage of their old package (including pension) they're earning now. It will be less than half, because it is always that way, and that will reveal the market rate for their skills, not whatever your union last extracted under threats of strikes.

  5. Doctor Syntax Silver badge
    Facepalm

    Industrial action is such a good way to make yourself indispensable.

  6. Steve K Silver badge

    "not covering for anyone else’s work"

    "not covering for anyone else’s work"

    I can see how the rest of the items could be covered under work-to-rule, but how can you refuse to cover for someone else's work in an infrastructure role?

    By its nature you would have >1 person assigned to individual environments/systems, and you would pick up helpdesk tickets as they came in. I can see that you might have reduced capacity if someone was absent, but you can't refuse to cover their work as it's not just "theirs".

    Steve

    1. Triggerfish

      Re: "not covering for anyone else’s work" @Steve

      "Bob's off sick today, its been decided that you will be the volunteer that stays a couple of extra hours to cover his late shift. The awkwardness of public transport when you finish is going to add even more time to your day but we do expect you in on time tomorrow because rules say that's a disciplinary otherwise, It's ok we won't pay you, afterall we are all in it together for the good of the company and I am sure you are happy to contirbute, however I do have to drive home myself at 5pm in my company Jaq."

      That's how you cover someone else work in some places.

      1. Hans 1
        Coffee/keyboard

        Re: "not covering for anyone else’s work" @Steve

        >" its been decided that you will be the volunteer that stays"

        Thanks for laugh

    2. Bob Vistakin
      Devil

      Re: "not covering for anyone else’s work"

      It even covers answering the phone on another desk when they take a break.

      Been there, seen it, got the T-Shirt. Guess where? BT during the "It's you we answer to" days.

    3. Tonyd225

      Re: "not covering for anyone else’s work"

      "How can you refuse to cover for someone else's work in an infrastructure role?" - That's the point - the service will suffer. It's not just bloody-mindedness.

  7. NogginTheNog
    WTF?

    HPE’s infrastructure outsourcing unit in Lytham

    Is that place still open?? Last time I passed that way there were all new houses and a superstore on the old site!

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Unions - protecting useless people for 150 years.....

    Back when the UK had a manufacturing industry, I can see the need for a trade union. These days, they are just the preserve of the lazy, feckless workshy individual who would kick up a fuss about having to turn in their chair to answer the phone.

    The truth is, good workers have good jobs in the private sector, they work hard and earn a fair living because if it.

    Bad, lazy workers end up in union protected roles where they will expect to be looked after for evermore and get a fat pension. They get these roles because nobody with two brain cells to rub together would want them. When someone with common sense comes along and tells the workers they are crap and someone else could do better (usually true) they hide behind the union and kepe their fingers crossed for a couple of days off on strike.

    Meanwhile, this country get dumber and Diana is still dead.......

    1. Triggerfish

      Re: Unions - protecting useless people for 150 years.....

      "The truth is, good workers have good jobs in the private sector, they work hard and earn a fair living because if it."

      Not met some of my employers then? Think that comment I made about covering was a fantasy?

      There's plenty of bossess in the private sector who will outright lie about employment law when it comes to making profit. If you think they are all altruistic and care about their workers to the point of them not being able to pay their mortgage off early and get an extra holiday then you are massively naive.

      Fuck I have seen people try to pull a fast one over sending people in to work in an asbestos area, not a problem that guy comes home and the fibres float through his house for his wife and kids as well (they didn't want to tell him it was likely an asbestos area and ruin project completion date by actually having to check that, don't worry he was only drilling into walls and ceilings).

      Now I will agree working on manglement side that some unons are full of arses who are on a power trip and take the piss as well to the point of screwing a company while you stand there going hmmn nice one guess everyones out of a job in a couple of months but at least you can be happy in your victory for that little while before you sign on.

      Unions are needed, but there needs to be a balance, extremes of power for either the employers or the Unions is a bad thing, people sitting down and sorting things out like adults you know what sometimes that works.

  9. H.I.T.S
    Headmaster

    Just a bit of pedantry

    Just a small point, the Cobalt is not in Newcastle. It's in North Tyneside,

    Different local authority to Newcastle City Council, different MP and about 9 miles away. Apart from that, not bad geography for a Southerner..

    It's right next to the old site of the Siemens Chip Plant http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/143085.stm A complete farce, but that's a story for another day. ( There's your I.T. Angle )

    Also on the site is a big data centre https://www.google.co.uk/maps/@55.0186987,-1.5011163,3a,75y,219.29h,83.9t/data=!3m6!1e1!3m4!1sJ1vtom__B9stpe2RZ7mr4g!2e0!7i13312!8i6656 ( Another I.T. Angle ) that apparently local footballers invested into. Couldn't possibly comment on the tax implications.

    Segwaying (sp?) nicely into your bit about Viz Comic and Farcebook: From Roger's Profanisaurus 3rd Edition

    " She took me all the way to the Billy Mill roundabout!" Said roundabout is about 2 mins drive from Cobalt.

    It's also very close to the mouth of the River Tyne & a monument to Lord Collingwood, who some argue actually won The Battle of Trafalgar, as Nelson had taken an early bath.

    Finally & best of all, it's very close to HITS Towers. About 5-8 mins away or an hour if you drive past as everyone who works at Cobalt leaves.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Shouldn't they be happy the jobs are staying in the UK?

    I assumed from the headline I would be reading how the jobs were being outsourced to India. Does the union expect HPE to keep this office open forever?

    This is the sort of thing that gives unions a bad name. Protest things that matter, not when companies are doing the right thing and keeping jobs in country.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Shouldn't they be happy the jobs are staying in the UK?

      Yes, the union does expect HPE to keep Lytham open forever, and industrial action will achieve nothing.

      However for the people impacted the jobs might as well have been outsourced to India.

      Even if you were offered a job at Newcastle or Erskine and they were willing to pay relocated expenses would you be willing to relocate if you had a house, children in school, family and friends locally? I suspect most would pass on that.

      1. Tonyd225

        Re: Shouldn't they be happy the jobs are staying in the UK?

        There was a move to outsource or 'offshore' the jobs to India but, due to the fact that the data is sensitive and the Data Protection Act states - 'Personal data shall not be transferred to a country or territory outside the European Economic Area unless that country or territory ensures an adequate level of protection for the rights and freedoms of data subjects in relation to the processing of personal data.' and this could not be guaranteed, the plans were scuppered.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Facepalm

    Outsourcing and public sector contracts?

    "Staff at HPE’s infrastructure outsourcing unit in Lytham who work on public sector contracts, including business for the Department of Work and Pensions, were put at risk of redundancy at the end of January."

    Outsourcing, a plot by the ToryCrats to get even more taxpayers money into the private sector without returning any better service.

  12. All names Taken
    Paris Hilton

    Why?

    Why should civil servants be above the practices usually experienced by all other non-civil servants?

    Are they above the rest of working folk and to be treated as privileged?

    1. Tonyd225

      Re: Why?

      Not civil servants - read the article

  13. Miss Lincolnshire

    Utter ignorance

    I've worked at the Lytham site. I've also worked at Cobalt. Those that characterise those under threat, and it's by no means a new threat, as bone idle civil service types are simply exhibiting their own ignorance.

    DWP services in Lytham have been run by either EDS or HPE for nigh on 20 years. The private sector and its practices are not a shock to anyone. A large proportion, myself included, never worked for ITSA in the first place so the assumption that it is staffed by career clock watchers is utter guff. The clock watchers went long ago, most of them soon after being TUPEd. I've nothing but respect for the majority of my former colleagues without whom the services running out of Cobalt would have never got off the ground.

    Good luck to my former colleagues on DWP Account. Those that reside in Erskine and Cobalt should not get too comfortable either. DWP wants it all in house so that's a significant chunk of the work that has to stay in the UK for security reasons at risk too. I understand Bulgarian language courses will soon appear in the Learning Catalogue.

    1. x 7

      Re: Utter ignorance

      "I've worked at the Lytham site"

      Sorry, but if you had been there (or at Peel Park, or Norcross) you'd know that your statement is an oxymoron. EDS/HPE staff attended, they didn't work. Only people who ever did "work" there were the occasional contractors brought in for special projects, who were treated like shit by the resident skivers and talking monkeys

      Its no surprise that the DWP want it all brought in house

      1. Miss Lincolnshire

        Re: Utter ignorance

        You are either a fantasist or the fat bloke at the chip shop and I claim my £5.

        One of the best senior managers at HPE works out of Lytham. He ran a strong and professional organisation, top to bottom, when I was there but I wouldn't expect anyone with blinkers to acknowledge that.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    No more home working for HPE employees

    Slightly off topic I know but HPE management are gradually drip feeding the news that all homeworking for HPE employees - regardless if the people involved have an agreement to be a mobile/home worker - is to be banned worldwide from April 1st 2016.

    Many colleagues of mine are homeworkers and have no clue yet about this development. One of them was told last week that she will have to pay the travel costs to get to her new 'home' HPE location - which for her consists of a 2 hour journey to and from work - and that's when all traffic flows freely.

    HPE cares not one jot about it's employees, so raising the profile of this favt via a strike will help with publicity, but sadly not with the end result.

  15. All names Taken
    Alien

    Tactics vs Strategy

    If a Tactic wins but in doing so defeats the desired outcome what good that?

    If a Tactic loses but in doing so gains the desired outcome what good is that?

    Discuss.

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