Tribunal rejects IBM move to delay union talks


The Australian Services Union appears to have won another round in its ongoing battle with IBM, claiming today that Fair Work Australia had rejected an IBM request to delay negotiations with the union until it could appeal a determination that it open talks.

Big Blue last week filed an appeal and stay of determination with Fair Work Australia over the industrial relations tribunal’s judgement that the technology giant negotiate with the union in good faith over the rights of IBM workers it represents.

But today the ASU said the stay order “went down in a screaming heap” at the tribunal.

“FWA declined to issue the stay after Senior Deputy President Boulton did not believe they [IBM] had an arguable case with a reasonable chance of success, nor did he believe on the balance of convenience it would prejudice IBM,” said ASU branch secretary Sally McManus in a statement.

“This means IBM have now exhausted the legal avenues available to it to prevent it having to bargain with the ASU.” McManus noted the union had written to IBM demanding a meeting and an answer to claims it had served on IBM over two weeks ago.

The union and IBM are at loggerheads over the rights of workers at Big Blue’s Baulkham Hills facility — which has around 80 staff. 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. The union claims IBM plans to offshore jobs from the facility, as well as a number of others such as Cumberland Forest, and a centre in Clayton in Melbourne.

Delimiter has contacted IBM for a response to the ASU’s statement today.

Image credit: Ivan Petrov, royalty free