Under-threat staff balloted over action

Demolition at the Heyhouses site, St Annes
Demolition at the Heyhouses site, St Annes
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Under-threat workers at a Fylde coast computer firm have started industrial action in a bid to protect more than 400 jobs.

Last month, Hewlett Packard (HP) announced it was preparing to axe the jobs at its Shepherd Road offices in St Annes, ending more than 25 years of work in the area.

Those facing dismissal work on major DWP computer systems, such as Job Seekers Allowance and the Personal Independence Payment system.

Unions said the move is part of HP plans to migrate jobs away from St Annes to two chosen ‘hub’ sites in Erskine, Scotland, but principally Cobalt in the North East.

The industrial action, which started on Monday and continues until April 15, will include workers refusing to train new recruits from the North East to do the jobs they do currently.

Public and Commercial Services Union full-time officer Alan Brown said: “These Government contracts are being delivered by highly-skilled, experienced, dedicated staff.

“This multi-national giant wants to squeeze more profits out of the British taxpayer by sacking staff in Lytham St Annes, and getting kids off the street to do the work in the North East.

“They are putting these IT systems at risk by their pursuit of another dollar.

“PCS members say they are not going to hand over their shoes for HP’s new recruits to step into the company. We want everyone to know about the callous and heartless treatment of HP towards its own staff.

“This work has been targeted for migration and our members are of the opinion that HP’s tactics are highly unethical – it’s like asking turkeys to vote for Christmas.”

Mr Brown claimed management has warned staff they could face disciplinary action for refusing to engage in the “knowledge transfer”.

Union bosses added that, as part of the plan, HP has been running a recruitment campaign in Newcastle to take on hundreds of new staff in the North East, to replace those being made redundant at the St Annes site.

It claimed many of the jobs being advertised in Newcastle are for the same jobs that are currently done by those in St Annes, but for lower pay and, as part of this plan, employees are expected to train newly-recruited employees to enable HP to run down the Fylde site.

No one from HP was available for comment.