Hundreds of office workers set to strike

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MORE than 380 office workers in Durham City could take strike action if their pay claim is not met.

Staff in Millburngate House, Framwellgate Riverside, have backed their union’s call to approve industrial action.

They are employed by information technology support company Atos which says it is disappointed by the decision, but still hopes to negotiate a settlement.

The Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS) balloted 1,600 Atos workers nationally.

Seventy one per cent of those in Durham approved strike action, and 86 per cent approved other forms of industrial action.

The Durham-based staff work on contracts for National Savings and Investments, the Borders Agency, the Vehicle Operator Standards Agency and the BBC.

Atos staff elsewhere are involved in the Olympics, and the company is also a sponsor.

PCS general secretary Mark Serwortka said: “Atos is desperate to bolster its damaged image by association with the Olympic spirit of hard work and success.

“But the reality is it makes profits on the backs of low-paid staff and from taxpayer handouts.”

Local PCS representative Ken Weaver said many staff in Durham are paid between £15,000 and £17,000.

He added: “The current offer from the company is worth less than two per cent to most of them.

“All we are asking for is a rise in line with the rising cost of living.

“Without going too deeply into the figures, that rise is not a great deal more than the company is offering, so I don’t think the two sides are very far apart.

“We don’t want to strike, but the ballot demonstrates the strength of feeling.”

A spokesman for Atos said the dispute “does not apply to or impact on” the company’s Olympic contract.

The spokesman added: “We are aware of the ballot result but we do not know if PCS will take strike action.

“Robust contingency plans are in place and we are confident there won’t be any disruption to services.

“We have made a fair and competitive offer and are disappointed with the position taken by these two PCS bargaining units.”

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