Combined Exhibition Of Advanced Technologies (CEATEC) Japan...Visitors walk past the Fujitsu Ltd. booth at the Combined Exhibition of Advanced Technologies (CEATEC) Japan 2009 at Makuhari Messe in Chiba City, Japan, on Tuesday, Oct. 6, 2009. The CEATEC will be held through Oct. 10. Photographer: Tomohiro Ohsumi/Bloomberg
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Fujitsu is cutting up to 1,800 jobs in the UK, in what a union described as a “hammer blow” for employees. The Japanese IT equipment and services company said it needed to become more efficient, as companies moved storing their data from its big mainframes on to remote servers.

Tokyo has warned the UK that its companies could reduce operations as a result of its vote to leave the EU in June, but Fujitsu said the move was not linked to Brexit.

It is set to shed jobs across Europe, with 400 losses announced in Finland last week.

In a statement on Tuesday, it said that the cuts were part of a “transformation programme” and would begin in 2017. It employs more than 14,000 people in the UK.

The Unite union said that the company was profitable and workers across the IT services company’s big sites would be hit. They include Belfast, Bracknell, Crewe, Londonderry, Manchester, Stevenage, Wakefield and Warrington. Its headquarters are in London.

Fujitsu is facing competition from nimble start-ups and Amazon Web Services, which host data in giant centres far from company premises, as well as suffering a shift from desktop to mobile devices. A Fujitsu company spokesman said that prices for services were dropping and barriers to entry lowering.

The company said: “Fujitsu is planning a transformation programme that will enable it to better support customers in the era of digital transformation.

“As part of the programme, Fujitsu plans to streamline operations in order to remain competitive in the market.”

Fujitsu’s customers include HM Revenue & Customs, the insurer Hiscox and councils and universities. It provides infrastructure such as servers, as well as services including cyber security, software support and data management.

Unite national officer Ian Tonks said: “This is a hammer blow for these hard-working employees who have given their all to make the UK subsidiary highly profitable.

“It is not good news for the UK economy as the company says that it intends to offshore many of these jobs, with increased automation also responsible for job losses.

“Fujitsu’s main UK subsidiary made £85.6m profit last year and we see no reason for these job losses. Unite will be doing its utmost to fight for these jobs, as well as giving our members maximum support at this very worrying time.”

The company did not dispute the profit figure but said it did not report national numbers. Fujitsu made a ¥14.05bn ($130m) loss for the quarter that ended in June.

Separately, Fujitsu staff in Manchester are voting on whether to take industrial action over pay, pensions and job security.

Unite claims that the company has been cutting pay rates and there is a significant gender pay gap.

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