By Ben Simmons
Unite, the UK’s largest union, has accused QinetiQ, the company that provides scientific and technical backup to the Ministry of Defence (MoD), of union-busting, after its announcement that it is terminating recognition with all its recognised trade unions with effect from 31 March.
Commenting on the announcement Unite assistant general secretary, Gail Cartmail, said: "Unite will not take this lying down. QinetiQ workers want union recognition and they will fight to retain it. We will support our members all the way in this struggle and will pull out all the stops to ensure that QinetiQ reverses this decision.
“For our members this is vitally important as they know that without the union in their workplace, their employer will be able to dictate terms and conditions - this is clearly unacceptable. Unite will shortly be calling a meeting of all reps to discuss how we can defend these long-standing agreements and ensure union recognition remains.”
Unions at QinetiQ are Unite, PCS, Prospect, and GMB.
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Tablets, and particularly the Apple iPad, are currently the flavour of the month. However, a new nationwide study commissioned by Basekit.com, a leading website builder, has revealed that Brits are not embracing tablets or mobiles as much as expected. Basekit.com commissioned the research to help British retailers find out what is — and isn’t — important for their customers when shopping online.
“There’s huge hype and publicity at the moment around tablets so it’s perhaps surprising to see that this isn’t being translated into general use amongst Brits. At Basekit.com, we have created thousands of successful e-commerce sites, so wanted to reassure current and potential online retailers about what they do and do not need to do when creating a site. This should hopefully lead them to create successful future-proofed e-commerce sites that will boost sales during these difficult economic times,” explained Juan Lobato, CEO, Basekit.com.
Highlights from the research include:
• Only 4% of Brits are using a tablet for online shopping. Of these, the Apple iPad is the most popular with 76% of tablet-shoppers using an iPad. In fact, the Apple iPad is now nearly as popular for online as a Mac desktop (3.3% of people use an iPad versus 3.7% of people who use a Mac desktop)
• Even less people use a mobile phone for online shopping. Despite the proliferation of apps from online retail stores such as Tesco and Amazon, only 2% of people claim to shop online through their mobile phone. Perhaps unsurprisingly, of those, the Apple iPhone dominates with 66% of mobile-shoppers using that device. Worryingly for Nokia and Microsoft, no Brit claims to use a Windows Mobile-based handset
• Microsoft continues to be the brand of choice for UK shoppers. 42% of Brits do their online shopping from a Windows-based PC and another 42% are shopping online from a Windows-based laptop. Only 9% of Brits primarily use a Mac to shop online, with Mac laptops being twice as popular than Mac desktops
• Men are embracing technology more quickly than women. Over twice as many men are shopping online through a tablet or mobile than women (9% of men versus 4% of women. Despite spending 12% less time shopping, men are the UK’s biggest spenders as well (must be all those gadgets!) and spend nearly a third more each month than women with an average spend of £273.15 (£127.93 online and £145.22 in store) compared to just £212.78 (£105.42 online and £107.36 in store) for women
• Young people are most likely to use a tablet or mobile phone for shopping. Young people are over twice as likely as the national average to use a mobile phone or tablet to shop, with 9.2% of 18-24 year olds and 9.8% of 25-34 year olds using tablet or mobile. Despite the over 55s being the biggest online shoppers overall, only 3% use a tablet device, and none use a mobile phone to shop online
This means that online retailers who are currently panicking about creating applications to allow their customers to shop on tablets and mobile phones do not need to rush into development. Instead, Basekit.com, who have helped thousands of businesses develop e-commerce websites, have created their top tips for businesses wanting to maximise online revenues.
1. Don’t be put off by stereotypes. Our research shows that all Brits are taking their shopping online. In fact, the over 55s are now the UK’s biggest online shoppers with 86% shopping regularly online. And men spend more money shopping online than women with an average monthly spend of £273.15
2. Add a personal touch. Customers really appreciate personalised contact — especially in a world where more and more forms of communication are automated and impersonal. Businesses should think about entering in a less formal dialogue with their customers to turn them into fans
3. Develop for the future. Although tablets and mobiles aren’t popular now, it doesn’t mean that they won’t be in the future. Small businesses do not need to bother with the expense of designing a dedicated application (unless they really want to!), but instead concentrate on making sure their website will look good no matter what device is used, for example, by not using Flash, and designing in HTML5 instead. Businesses that design their sites with Basekit.com overwhelmingly vote the fact that Basekit.com is Flash-free as a great selling point for ensuring that their sites are compatible with tablets and mobiles
4. Give a guarantee. Customers view money-back guarantees as a vote of confidence from the business about their products. By offering a money-back guarantee, customers will believe that businesses value good customer service and will provide a good standard of aftercare
5. Think about the customer. When designing an e-commerce site, it’s very important to think about the end user. For example, if a business’ main audience is older people, then they should develop a site that has large-text options and obvious navigational markers
“With this research, we’re hoping to help UK online retailers and website developers make sure that their websites work hard for them. We don’t believe that many retailers need to rush into creating Apple iPad or Android phone applications as our research shows that Brits aren’t currently shopping through these as a general rule. However, we want to make sure that UK retailers are making informed decisions about their online footprint and developing websites that will help them take advantage of the British obsession with shopping,” ended Lobato.