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A trade union representing workers at HP has launched a ballot for industrial action over pay and benefits.

Unite said the ballot concerned 150 customer service engineers and support specialists, who are home based and operate across the UK. The move marks the first time UK HP employees have been asked to vote on industrial action.

The workers' complaint is around being transferred on 1 November into the HP CDS business, which was formed from the acquisition of Synstar in 2004. Alongside the move they are losing pay and pension benefits, including a £2,000 performance bonus scheme and a final salary pension, Unite said.

HP had not commented at the time of going to press.

The ballot will begin today, and Unite said it had given seven days notice of the vote to HP. The result will be known in mid-November.

Peter Skyte, national officer at Unite, called the changes to the workers’ pay and conditions “the latest in a series of attacks" by HP. The workers had “no choice” but to consider industrial action, he said.

"Unite remains willing to seek a resolution to this dispute with HP,” he said, “but not on the basis that one employee’s pay cut results in a HP executive’s pay and bonus increase.”

In May, it emerged that HP was set to axe 850 manufacturing jobs in the Scotland, as production of storage devices and servers was moved to the Czech Republic.

The move was part of global job cuts at HP in attempts to tackle the effects of the recession. The company is also extensively cutting jobs at EDS following its acquisition of the services company in 2008.