19 IBM staff made redundant, union claims


update IBM has made 19 staff at its Baulkham Hills ‘Flight Deck’ facility in Sydney redundant, according to the Australian Services Union, which added that the customer most hit by the changes would be Westpac.

The union and IBM are at loggerheads over the rights of workers at Big Blue’s Baulkham Hills facility — which has around 80 staff. After a tribunal battle, the ASU has won the right to negotiate with IBM, but Big Blue appears to be pushing ahead with plans to shift jobs offshore.

“IBM have now announced all the redundancies for their Baulkham Hills Flight Deck operations. A total of 19 people jobs will be abolished which is 25 percent of the Flightdeck workforce,” ASU branch secretary Sally McManus said in a statement this morning.

“IBM’s ability to meet client needs is unaffected,” IBM said in a statement. “IBM continuously transforms its business, rebalancing skills and capabilities in order to meet the changing needs of clients and our business as a whole.”

“We are working directly with our employees to ensure their individual interests are central throughout the redeployment process. We respect the right of our employees to join unions, and we continue to engage with the ASU as required under the Fair Work Act, including the requirement to bargain in good faith.”

The union official said the customer hardest hit by the redundancies would be Westpac, which has a long-running outsourcing agreement with IBM. IBM was not offshoring or relocating workers on the Westpac deal, they were just abolishing the jobs and asking the remaining workers to pick up the extra work, the union claimed.

“ASU members who work on the Westpac contract believe that IBM is making a serious mistake as they have targeted some of the most experienced operators. They are highly skilled in Tandem which operates Westpac’s ATM and POS network,” McManus said.

“Members believe this has the potential to have a serious negative impact on Westpac customers as ASU members keep their ATM and POS system operating. Should there be a fault once these workers leave, there will not be enough skilled workers to respond in timely manner to fix this fault.”

The union official said Tandem was a complicated system — adding that it took “years” to obtain the skills that the terminated workers have.

The union further claimed that support for IBM’s FIS, Myer, Cathay Pacific and Bada contracts will be offshored to China, while customers such as Westpac, Qantas, MLC and the Australian Government will have less resources helping to serve their needs.

The ASU said that it had been negotiating with IBM for a collective agreement with staff for several weeks.

“IBM has stated they will be giving a “lengthy” written response to the union’s claims,” said McManus. “ASU members will be meeting to consider this response from IBM. Unless IBM show they are serious about coming to an agreement with the ASU, IBM will be adding fuel to the fire. IBM can address this situation by showing their workforce they are listening by making progress in the negotiations.”

The union official said the redundancies had “angered” the Baulkham Hills workforce, and unionised staff there were even more resolved to win a collective agreement with Big Blue, as they had been told it was likely there would be more cuts in future.

“Two IBM employees who work on the Westpac contract were witnesses in the case the ASU won against IBM which has forced them to bargain with the Union. ASU members believe this is part retaliation for their union activism,” said McManus.

Image credit: Patrick H, Creative Commons