IBM clams up on union brawl


Technology behemoth IBM this afternoon issued a ‘no comment’ statement in response to demands from the Australian Services Union that it comply with a ruling by Fair Work Australia that it negotiate with the union in good faith.

Delimiter has been unable to source an ASU spokesperson on the issue, but quoted the union this afternoon as saying that there would definitely be a minimum of 17 jobs lost from IBM’s Baulkham Hills facility as a result of offshoring, while iTWire reported the ASU had given IBM until 5pm today to comply with Fair Work Australia’s ruling on the need for negotiations.

But tonight IBM refused to say what it would do in response to the ruling.

“IBM is unable to provide comment, as we are awaiting reasons for the Order issued by Fair Work Australia,” a spokesperson for Big Blue said.

The Baulkham Hills facility — which has about 80 staff — has been a sore point for IBM over the past several years. Big Blue fought a running battle with the union and the employees it represents at the facility throughout 2008, with an eventual reconciliation being met for better conditions for the staff in October of that year.

However union action at the facility kicked off again in December, with ASU branch secretary Sally McManus claiming that IBM had a global policy of not negotiating with unions and that the company had employed top-level lawyers to frustrate the chances of any collective agreement coming to pass.

At issue currently are jobs which the union claims IBM plans to offshore from a number of facilities — the Baulkham Hills facility in Sydney, as well as Cumberland Forest, and a centre in Clayton in Melbourne.

Questioned on the matter in mid-February, IBM would only say it had made no announcements in the areas referred to by articles on the subject. “However, IBM is continuously rebalancing its skills and capabilities in order to meet the changing needs of clients,” a company statement said.

Image credit: Ivan Petrov, royalty free