Strike at Fuji Xerox cripples support

Indefinite strike action by Fuji Xerox engineers has left enterprise printing services and mail rooms in chaos as customers struggle to operate with minimal levels of technical support.

Demands for a pay increase are at the centre of the week-long national strike which has involved more than 150 maintenance engineers crippling customer support services.

A Fuji Xerox spokeswoman confirmed customer support has been reduced to technical assistance over the telephone while engineers are unavailable to go on-site to resolve customer problems.

"IT managers have been calling and we are walking them through problems over the phone," she said.

"Complex issues that would usually involve sending out an engineer are being resolved over the telephone; I'm not going to deny that customers have been affected but we are not going to release their names."

Customers listed on the company's Web site include Wollongong University, Baulderstone Hornibrook and Swinburne University.

Negotiations with the Australian Services Union (ASU) are continuing and the company has been able to contain the strike to some degree with workers in most states, except NSW, returning to work over the past few days.

An estimated 120 engineers in NSW and a single engineer in Canberra, are staying out indefinitely seeking a guaranteed $2500 per annum pay increase.

The Fuji Xerox spokeswoman said the company has offered increases as high as $3500 based on performance but will only guarantee $1500 per annum.

"A rise of $1500 per annum against the base salary represents a 3 percent pay rise which is well above the CPI," she said.

"Fuji Xerox provides the best pay and working conditions in the industry with technical staff receiving 78 weeks of redundancy."

However, Sally McManus, ASU NSW executive president, said the company escalated the dispute by flying in strike breakers on seven-day training visas from New Zealand, Singapore and Malaysia.

"It is rare for companies to fly in strike breakers and a big move by Fuji in terms of escalating the dispute, like pouring petrol on the fire," McManus said.

"We have been bargaining over the enterprise agreement for nearly 10 years and had the occasional stopwork, but never anything like this, it is disappointing."

The Fuji Xerox spokeswoman admitted a total of seven engineers were flown in from Singapore and New Zealand and that, in addition to the pay dispute, staff were concerned about the introduction of global positioning system technology, which the company later withdrew to appease union concerns.