HP’s difficult week continues with strikes and a lawsuit

Hewlett-Packard, the planet’s largest computer company, has been hit with a double whammy of ongoing industrial action and a potential product recall in China.

On Tuesday, approximately 200 employees at HP locations in the north-east and north-west of England went ahead with a second day of strikes in a bid to improve job security and pay.

“HP staff have worked hard to help the company deliver billions of dollars in revenues, yet have been slapped in the face with job losses and a pay freeze for two years running," commented Mark Servotka, general secretary of the Public and Commercial Services Union, which represents some HP staff. "It is disgraceful that staff should be treated in such a way, as they shoulder greater workloads to help generate good profit levels."

Shortly afterwards, it was announced that Chinese lawyers had filed an official complaint on behalf of 170 consumers who claim to have received defective laptops from HP, marking the first time the company had been on the end of organised action from overseas customers.

The complaint, which was sent to the General Administration for Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine (AQSIQ) earlier this week, regards supposed overheating and screen malfunctioning in HP notebooks.

Jiang Suhua, a lawyer at Yingke Law Firm in Beijing, told the Financial Times that the prospect of winning any court action against HP was unlikely, and that those affected by the allegedly defective products were instead pushing for a recall and subsequent compensation. "We hope we can set a precedent and help strengthen the protection of consumer rights in China," explained Jiang.

The latest developments mark a painful week for the IT giant, which on Monday downwardly revised its fourth quarter net income by £70 million as the costs associated with its legal tussle with former customer BSkyB continue to escalate. On the same day, HP employees began their two-day walk-out.

In a further twist, HP announced this week that it was suing a Taiwanese printer ink manufacturer called MicroJet, along with three other companies, over alleged product patent infringements.

Peter Done

Peter Done is managing director of Peninsula Business Services, the personnel and employment law consultancy he set up having already built a successful betting shop business.

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