LONDON (AP) _ Computer giant ICL plans to cut up to 1,500 jobs in Britain following disappointing business results and tough conditions in the information technology market.

The company, which is owned by Japan's Fujitsu, announced Wednesday it would try to achieve the cuts, which amount to 13 percent of its British work force, through voluntary means but could not rule out compulsory layoffs.

The Manufacturing, Science and Finance Union said the timing of the announcement so close to Christmas was ``astonishing.''

``Employees must feel it is not only Father Christmas who brings the sack,'' said MSF National Officer Peter Skyte. ``ICL employees are being made sacrificial lambs because it is cheaper and quicker to sack staff in Britain than elsewhere in Europe.''

Company spokesman Graham Goulden said as ICL's financial results were ``less than what we had hoped'' although he did not disclose specifics.

Goulden said 70 percent of ICL's cost base is in Britain where it employs 11,500 workers at centers including Bracknell, Reading, Slough, Manchester, Liverpool, Cardiff, Bristol, Belfast, Stevenage and London. A total of 17,700 workers are employed by ICL in Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

He said no job cuts were planned outside of Britain.

No details were given about which categories of employees would be affected.

The company, which builds and operates IT systems, said it had taken a number of measures to avoid job losses, including a reduction in the number of contractors and temporary workers and tight control of recruitment.

The cuts will be completed by next March and all affected employees will be offered guidance and support, ICL said.