Atos IT staff vote to strike over low pay

The majority of more than 1,600 workers at Atos IT Services and Atos Healthcare, who are members of the Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS), have voted to go on strike over pay.

PCS balloted its members earlier this month after 89 percent of IT workers and 95 percent of healthcare staff at the major London 2012 Olympic Games sponsor voted to reject below-inflation pay offers. Most of the members work in the IT services division.

Some 71 percent of the IT staff voted for strikes, while 93 percent voted for action short of a strike. Action by Atos’s IT staff could affect a range of contracts, including the 24-hour technological support to BBC production staff and on-air presenters, IT support to the Welsh Assembly and back-up and fault diagnosis on MoT test centre systems at the Vehicle and Operator Services Agency.

Meanwhile, 76 percent of the union’s healthcare members, who are administrative and reception staff, voted for strikes, while 86 percent voted for other forms of industrial action.

Strike action could take place in the next few weeks, PCS said.

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According to the union, Atos refuses to offer pay rises to the ‘living wage’ level of £8.30 an hour in London and £7.20 an hour in the rest of the country. This is despite the company recording a 5.8 percent increase in first quarter 2012 revenue to €390 million in the UK and Ireland.

Furthermore, PCS said that Atos’s chief executive Thierry Breton last week emailed staff saying that the company was “on track” to achieve all its targets for revenue and profits, adding: “You can be very proud to have strongly contributed to this success.”

PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka said: "Atos is desperate to bolster its damaged image by its association with the Olympic spirit of hard work and success, but that the reality is that it makes its profits on the backs of its low-paid staff and from taxpayer handouts.”

A spokesman for Atos said: "Robust contingency plans are in place and we are confident that services will be maintained. We have made a fair and competitive offer and are disappointed in this position. This does not reflect the view of the vast majority of our employees."