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Atos IT staff call off strike action

For now, as employees mull new pay offer

London 2012 Olympic Games sponsor Atos has made a new pay offer to its IT services and healthcare staff, which has prevented strike action that was due to start today.

Last month, 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), voted to go on strike over below-inflation pay offers. Most of the members work in the IT services division.

However, a spokesperson for PCS told ComputerworldUK today that the company made a new pay offer to the union's negotiators last week, which was good enough to be taken back to members to be voted on.

"Members are going to be balloted on that and we will see what the outcome of that is," a PCS union spokesperson said, with the results of the ballot due to be announced over the next few weeks.

Nonetheless, he added that the "strikes due to take place today were well supported".

Some 71 percent of the IT staff had 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.

According to the union, Atos had refused 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.

In a statement, Atos said: "Atos and PCS are working together to resolve the dispute in relation to pay and as such the potential strike action planned for 13 and 28 August has been postponed.''

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