Is IBM’s Flight Deck union debacle over?


IBM today said it had concluded long-running talks with the Australian Services Union that saw the pair front up earlier this year before workplace tribunal Fair Work Australia.

“We have concluded negotiations with IBM employee representatives and the ASU,” Big Blue said in a company statement. “The individual interests of our employees remained central throughout the negotiation process.”

ASU branch secretary Sally McManus, who has been representing the union in the matter, this afternoon declined to comment on the matter.

However the Australian Financial Review reported this morning that McManus had said the matter related to the long-running dispute at IBM’s Baulkham Hills operations centre, commonly known as the Flight Deck, and that about 80 IBM staff had accepted common law contracts.

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, the ASU revealed in February action at the facility had recently started again.

In early July a ballot showed that a majority of staff there supported union action on a range of fronts to attempt to bring IBM to the negotiating table. The forms of industrial action ranged from an unlimited ban on overtime, through to four hour and rolling work stoppages, to 24, 48, 72 hour or even indefinite work stoppages and even a ban on training other workers.

At that stage, McManus said workers would not take the option of strike action unless it formed a view that IBM was not genuine about reaching an agreement.

Image credit: Patrick H, Creative Commons