Wokingham records increase in job vacancies
September 07, 2009
Wokingham is the only unitary authority in Berkshire to have more job vacancies now than last year, but job cuts from IT giant Fujitsu could hit unemployment in the borough.
Figures show Wokingham had a small increase of just 29 job vacancies from July 2008 to July 2009, but it meant it is the only jobs market in the county with more vacant posts this year.
Two per cent of the borough’s workforce now claims JobSeekers’ Allowance (JSA), up from 0.7 per cent last year, but the figure could increase if Fujitsu carries out its planned cuts of 10 per cent of its workforce.
Last week Fujitsu announced 1,200 redundancies would be made across the country.
The Fujitsu office at Winnersh Triangle employs 17 staff, and its Bracknell offices have 1,240 employees, but the company says it cannot confirm whereabouts in the country the losses will take place.
Members of workers’ union Unite have voted for strike action about pay and pensions over the company’s final salary pension scheme and the existing pay freeze.
Fujitsu announced the pay freeze just a week before it was brought in last year and plans to close its pension scheme, which will affect 4,000 employees.
If the job cuts proposal goes ahead, staff will be dismissed at the end of September following a month-long consultation period.
Peter Skyte, the Unite national officer for IT and communications, said: “Fujitsu Services is not struggling or failing.
“Following the announcement of 1,200 redundancies, they are now calling for the issue of job cuts to be included in any ballot for formal industrial action.
“We are calling on the company to meet us to resolve these issues and avoid the risk of damaging industrial action.”
A report from last month’s Berkshire Economic Commentary shows, however, that on the whole the last few months have been “relatively calm” for businesses.
It also stated: “Although the situation may not yet be getting significantly better, it is not getting significantly worse.”
Business Link in Berkshire carried out a survey in March showing an increase in confidence in the economy was being revealed and this should help uplift the high street.
Business owners polled believe this increased confidence was the key to spending.
Wokingham still has the second-lowest number of jobseekers in Berkshire, behind Bracknell Forest, yet the number of claimants rose from 670 claimants in July 2008 to 2,125 in July this year.
The Berkshire Economic Commentary also showed Wokingham faring reasonably against neighbouring authorities, although it revealed problems with low footfall and competition from larger stores hitting shops.
Wokingham Borough Council has offered help to small businesses, which have been given cash flow aid through £442,569 of small business rate relief granted to help them cover the payment costs.
The council has also planned Keep Trade Local events and recruitment fairs to help traders.
Looking ahead, the economic commentary showed the key challenges for businesses were credit, cash flow, inflation and competition affected margins.
Mark Ashwell, the chairman of Wokingham Chamber of Commerce, said: “There are some reasons to be more optimistic about the future.
“However, the increase in employment rates is a concern and could have an effect on the propensity for Wokingham Borough’s businesses to support a sustained recovery.”