back to article Union threatens Shell with legal action

Royal Dutch Shell faces legal action from trade union Unite over the terms of its redundancy package, a week after telling staff that more than 3,000 IT jobs were to be outsourced at the firm. A leaked memo that appeared on an anti-Shell website last week revealed that staff at the oil giant had been told of the firm's plans to …

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Ash

Shell does not recognise the union...

It's easy; It's that group of pissed off employees which are willing to, en mass, drag your capitalist ass through the courts to force some god damn common decensy towards your fellow human beings into you.

Still, at least it's only another 30 years before these bastards of companies go bankrupt because all the black gold has gone.

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Flame

grrr

Some damn rules should be passed to stop this outsourcing, its a crime in itself, it serves no ones interests but whoever gets the profit from the bottom line.

Its not good for the staff, its not good for the customer, its only good for the fat cats.

If I phone customer services and I dont get body at the end of the line in my own country, I change supplier, end of.

I wont go into the union issues or I'll be writing for a month!

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Anonymous Coward

Maybe because of Vista?

My company works quite closely and we've been asked to extend support of our application to Msft Vista as whole shell IT is switching to it. That's the reason they don't have cash to pay all those severance packages...

Blame Microsoft ;)

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Sam

Shell doesn't recognise the union?

They will...biggest in the country, biggest membership across multiple professions, best lawyers. Shells suits (see what I did there?) are going to be hurt.

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Dan
Alert

Never cross IT staff

It always strikes me as daft that these companies try to screw their IT staff.....aka the people in the company who have access and control to the most important data of all...ALL THE DATA !!

FatCatBoss: Sorry chaps we are laying you off, and will pay you a pittance in redundancy and give your jobs to some non-technical staff in another country which means I can buy myself another couple of Ferrari's and mistresses.

IT Staff: Oh ok then, guess we'll be off then. Oh btw all of the servers have accidentally cascade failed and it seems someone put some big magnets by the backup cupboard. But your new staff can handle that can't they ?

;)

IT staff can do so much damage and commonly without any proof that they did it. As a Security test years ago whilst working at IBM, I downloaded ALL of IBM's EMEA router root level passwords, (about 6000-12000 routers,) and all the UK Server root passwords on to a floppy disk and walked out of the building. Had a couple of ciggies and then came back in. No one stopped me, no one knew I had done it other than my boss. I could have uploaded that to hacker chatrooms and pinpointed the routers that were open to the Internet and caused untold damage and havoc to IBM. (Good job Im honest.....and I wasn't pissed off.)

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Unhappy

Greedy

I love the line about cost savings as these almost never happen or if they do it is only short term with the long tail being much more costly.

Stockholders beware as outsourcing usually precedes an accounting scandal.

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Flame

THIS just illustrates why...

1) All IT people should belong to a large union, preferably international. Communications Workers, Service Employees, whatever.

2) IT people's benefits should come through the union. That means the benefits are agreed amongst the employees, not HR and Management. The employer contribution is negotiated as part of the contract.

Then any company that tries this stuff will be struck, labeled Unfair, have picket lines that logistics (e.g., Teamsters in the US) won't cross.

And people won't lose their benefits.

What stops us?

Snobbishness. The attitude that "I'm too good to belong to a union, where everybody is treated the same."

Just ask your nearest IT guy who plans to be Steve Jobs next year.

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Pirate

@ Ash

> Still, at least it's only another 30 years before these bastards of companies go bankrupt because all the black gold has gone.

No, by then the oil companies will have paid MPs enough to force us to pay them for stuff we will not get.

Oh, sorry we do that now - it's called tax!

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Coat

Blimey

OK, this is posted anon as I know I'll get one or two flames ;-)

I don't have anything at all against employees getting what is right for them - but anyone who believes IT staff jobs are safe in the UK is sadly mistaken. Other, cheaper countries IT companies can do an 'adequate' (note the word adequate - thats all it needs to be) job of keeping infrastructure running and PC's warm. Problem is we in the West have become used to seeing ourselves as totally irreplaceable in IT - along with our high salaries, over engineered systems and over inflated sense of worth.

Try working in the East and you will see higher motivated, highly intelligent IT staff doing the same jobs for much less cash. That's why outsourcing happens - that and to increase the company profits (and whats wrong with that?).

Get me coat on as it needs to be asbestos.

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Non-union employees

There's a technical term for employees who aren't members of a union. That term is "idiot".

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Non-union employees

Not really - dear ol' Maggie Thatcher defanged the unions almost totally whilst at the same time instilling the "me me me" attitude in everyone (remember the 80's?).

The twofold effect is brilliant - people won't strike because they loose the pay (even union members) and because people won't strike the unions don't have any negotiating power. Ask an old-skool member of the UCU (NatFHE) or PCS unions.

In fact, outsourcing is the best way to fire people - you don't have to justify making someone redundant (it's the job that's going rather than the person specifically) so you just get shot of everyone at once then when the outsourcing fails you blame the outsourcing company and you're in the clear to create those positions anew with all new people doing the old jobs, for less money and worse contracts. It really does save money in the long run.

Sometimes I wonder when I became so cynical.

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Unhappy

The Outsourcing Myth

As a union rep in local government I agree with the above comments but whether it is because Local Government, National Health, MOD etc,etc have outsourced and PFI'ed and found that the cost has not justified the means. Example our authority outsourced to CAPITA their salaries department, in the first year the cost to the rate payers was in excess of £1 million over budget and over the 5 year period was many millions over budget. It has now been taken back in house again.

The company you outsource to has to make a profit and to cut the cost (not the profit) something has to give and that is usualy the service to the customer or service user, usualy both so in effect you get less for the same price, or even more less at a cheaper price, you will never get the value as you had before.

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Happy

Cheer Up Chris

I think Chris Cheale's comments "Non-union employees" are a bit out of date. Many people working today DON'T remember the 80s.

Because people are increasingly sick of being used, abused then dumped - and of the continual pressure to work longer and harder for less - I think people are increasingly willing to take action as a last resort.

Look at what UNITE achieved in Fujitsu (http://www.ourunion.org.uk/news) with the action there last year.

Not being a union member means allowing some unelected fat-cats to decide your fate without even trying to have a say.

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IT Angle

unionisation

I think that the corporations, the government, and everyone else needs to remember how unionisation actually works: a LARGE number of people down tools and picket significant sites. Thats a union. It doesn't matter whether a company 'recognises' that union or not; the action still takes place, disruption is caused and the corporations and government lose money.

Now, in most cases, such action is fairly minimal, with a disruption to a specific area of business or corporation, and tends to be little more than an inconvienience, but consider the implications of a national strike of IT personnel. Such an action would dwarf even the miners strike during the eighties and be far more effective.

We're often expected to work excessive hours, often on low-end pay (especially pertinent to service centre staff, such as helpdesk analysts who are compared to call-centre staff for purposes of salary calculations), we are cheated out of bonuses whilst our employers report 'record profits', we are expected to meet internal KPI's and external SLA's which are often in contradiction with each other, we are cajoled by middle-management often with no knowledge of IT, we carry the blame for failure but rarely the recognition of success, our jobs are out-sourced and moved overseas to avoid TUPE regulations, and we are NOT represented as an industry at even a local level, let alone nationally. Consequently, we, alongside the much harrased call-centre worker, are treated as the cotton mill workers of the 21st century, and I, for one, am considering chucking my sabot into the gears on a near daily basis.

I think its about time that we had a union specifically intended to represent IT staff in the UK, and the so-called 'Fat cats' should be very afraid of that.

Unions may indeed be 'de-fanged' these days (after all, they are now seen as 'business partners' to the corporations, and are hung up on politics and profits in the same way as the coporations themselves), but that doesn't mean that action cannot, and will not, be taken.

My message to the IT industry: treat us fairly or face the consequences. It's only a matter of time.

PS I am posting anonymously for fear of professional repurcussions, which is a fine indicator of the climate!

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