A militant mood is making IT employees more likely to fight back over threats to their jobs.
As the fallout from the economic slump hits jobs, IT workers are proving unwilling to simply fall in with employers' proposals.
Tomorrow a protest is planned by members of AMICUS, Britain's second biggest union, against ICL's compulsory redundancies.
Meanwhile BT IT workers have voted to strike over pension rights and job security fears concerning their proposed transfer to Comptacenter. Negotiations with BT are still continuing.
Peter Foster, analyst, Ovum Holway, said: "In the BT case transfer of staff in outsourcing deals is always a risk. You need to consult with people at every step. For BT to get it wrong - they should know better.
"It gives the indication that it might be worth challenging employers' decisions rather than meekly rolling over."
Peter Skyte, AMICUS national secretary, said: "The evidence we're finding is that people are realising the need to stand up and assert their rights ratherthan accept things lying down."
He expected a "good turnout" tomorrow at ICL's West Gorton site in Manchester, where the company plans to make 49 compulsory redundancies.
The IT services company, the main subsidiary of Fujitsu in the UK, announced 1500 job losses across the UK last December without consulting with staffsaid the union, which accuses ICL of treating workers "like disposable parts."Talks between the two sides are continuing, with a meeting planned for later today.
"The problem is not that ICL won't talk, but that they won't listen," said Skyte.
An ICL spokesman said the company had managed to reduce the number of redundancies to 1,300. Some 800 voluntary redundancies have been accepted, leaving 500 redundancies to make across the company.
"It's going smoothly elsewhere," said the spokesman, "but we need to keep our cost base down due to the economic situation."
A spokesman for the TUC said the "increase in industrial action is more apparent than real."
However, he said there is a lot more talk of strike action which is proving "a useful tool in negotiating with bosses. The threat of strike action makes them go back to the negotiating table."
He pointed out that in 1979 there were 29,474,000 worker days lost due to industrial action, compared to 27,135,000 in 1984.
In recent years, however, the figures show a growing fighting spirit. In 1999 some 242,000 days were lost.
The 2000 figure is 499,000, while the latest total for 2001 (up to October) is 354,000.
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