12 August 2011
Industrial action could be held in September and October and would affect the public services supported by the contractor Fujitsu, particularly in HM Revenue and Customs and the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency, meaning the firm could face financial penalties for missing service agreements.
The ballot, which opened this week, involves almost 750 staff working on contracts across the UK for HMRC, Home Office, Ministry of Defence, Office of National Statistics and the DVLA.
Fujitsu has either met or exceeded performance targets on these contracts this year and senior managers are enjoying bonuses in excess of £14,000 in some cases - more than some staff earn in a year.
Despite this, the company is refusing to increase a pay offer that will mean rises of between just 1.5% and 2.5%, well below the rate of inflation. Fujitsu has also reneged on a commitment given during talks last year to introduce a structured pay progression system.
The staff perform a variety of roles, including support for HMRC IT systems, meaning the payment of tax credits could be hit by any industrial action, and in the DVLA they maintain and develop the IT systems that produce driving licences.
PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka said: "While senior managers are pocketing bonuses in excess of what some of our members earn in a year, it's not only wrong, it's offensive for Fujitsu to claim it can't afford to increase pay.
"Just because these staff are off the government's books, ministers are ultimately responsible for what happens in their department's name and they can not simply wash their hands of issues like low pay among their contractors."