news Technology giant HP this morning said it expected its massive global job cuts — which are expected to see some 27,000 employees exit the company — to affect all of its regions across the world, with the implication that Australia will not be left off the list of locations to receive retrenchment targets.
Overnight in the US, the company announced what it described as a “multi-year productivity initiative” that would save it between $3 billion and $3.5 billion through the 2014 financial year and allow it to reinvest in its ailing operations to focus on growing its business. “As part of the restructuring, HP expects approximately 27,000 employees to exit the company, or 8.0% of its workforce as of Oct. 31, 2011, by the end of fiscal year 2014,” HP said. “The company is offering an early retirement program, so the total number of employees affected will be impacted by the number of employees that participate in the early retirement plan. Workforce reduction plans will vary by country, based on local legal requirements and consultation with works councils and employee representatives, as appropriate.”
In Australia, a HP spokesperson said that while the company had not yet announced specific plans with regards to specific locations, “we do expect the workforce reduction to impact just about every business and region”, adding: “Beyond this, we unfortunately don’t have any additional information to share at the moment.”
The last time HP announced a significant restructure of this magnitude, the issue hit Australia hard. In November 2008, following the acquisition of IT services giant EDS, which had a significant Australian presence as one of the nation’s major IT outsourcers, HP announced that it expected to cut some 24,600 jobs globally — or 7.5 percent of its workforce.
The wording of the cuts was exactly the same in some places as the cuts announced this week. “Workforce reduction plans will vary by country, based on local legal requirements and consultation with works councils and employee representatives, as appropriate,” HP said in 2008 — mirroring its statement this week exactly.
Those cuts saw significant chops hit Australia, with HP stating at the time that it had expected to cut a similar percentage — about 450 workers — in Australia. At the time, HP came under strong criticism from some aspects of the technology sector over what many saw as a lack of communication which the company had had with affected workers. Although the company does have union involvement in its operations in Australia courtesy of the Association of Professional Engineers, Scientists and Managers Australia, many HP staff at the time were frustrated with the company at the time over what they saw as unfair restrictions which the company had placed on managers being able to communicate with employees about their future.
The issues ultimately boiled over at the major EDS facility in Burwood and resulted in an attempted suicide by one EDS worker.
The 2008 redundancies marked an extremely black period for HP in Australia. The company only had itself to blame at the time for its staff troubles, due to its extremely poor internal communication style. And now it’s come full circle around again. In an almost identical media release to the one it issued in 2008, HP has again outlined an almost identical number of global redundancies. With Australia being one of the locations where HP maintains a large number of staff due EDS’ strong IT services presence, we can expect that once again HP will shortly be laying off hundreds of staff locally.
Let’s just hope the company has learnt its lesson since 2008 and is more open, transparent and supportive of its workers this time around.