Unite union members at Fujitsu have called off a strike due on Friday as talks take place to solve the UK's first ever national IT workers' strike. The union described the move as a "conciliatory gesture" to allow breathing space for further discussions, on pay, redundancies and pensions, at the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (ACAS).
A strike called for Monday 8 February is still going ahead and union members have asked Unite to call a further strike day for Wednesday 10 February, if Fujitsu goes ahead with the 42 compulsory redundancies planned for Friday.
The number of compulsory redundancies has fallen, from an originally planned 248 as staff have taken voluntary redundancy or been redeployed in the company. In total, Fujitsu initially planned 834 redundancies, 586 of which were voluntary.
Fujitsu said that the cancellation of the strike on 5 February was a "positive sign".
Over the past two months, the dispute has become increasingly bitter, with the company seeking to bring costs down to what it claimed were those of its rivals. The union, on the other hand, has said the company is highly profitable and accused it of using the recession as an excuse to drive down staff terms and conditions.
The union has also posed questions over whether Fujitsu was discriminating against women and staff from ethnic minority backgrounds in its choice of those targeted for redundancy. Fujitsu strongly rejects any question of discrimination and said it always acted in the interests of equal opportunities.
The strikes have targeted work on a number of high profile contracts, including with Marks & Spencer, Vodafone, the Home Office, HM Revenue & Customs, the Financial Services Authority, and the Post Office. Fujitsu three weeks ago was awarded preferred bidder status on an estimated £1 billion desktop infrastructure contract, at the Department for Work and Pensions.