news Global technology giant HP has refused to say whether or not the 25,000 to 30,000 job cuts it is making globally will have an impact on the company’s extensive Australian workforce, although speculation flying around Australia’s IT industry this afternoon and the company’s past history suggests Australia will not be spared.
Overnight the company revealed it planned to cut between 25,000 and 30,000 jobs — representing about 10 percent of its global workforce, as part of its gradual restructure, which is seeing it separate into two corporate entities — one focused on enterprise products and services, and one on consumer products.
A spokesperson for HP Australia this afternoon issued a terse statement noting that “as a matter of company policy”, the company does not break out employee headcount by country.
However, Delimiter has received unconfirmed information to the effect that restructuring is indeed occurring within HP’s Australian operations.
Historically, the company’s global layoffs have had a sharp impact on HP’s operation Down Under, due especially to the company’s acquisition of IT services giant EDS in 2008. EDS had a significant operation in Australia courtesy of major IT outsourcing deals with Federal and State Governments, as well as in other sectors.
For example, the company’s 27,000-strong global layoff effort announced in May 2012 was expected to hit the company’s Australian operations at that point, with HP confirming at that point that the cuts would affect “just about every business and region”. Shortly after, it was revealed the company would be offshoring jobs to Malaysia.
The time before that that HP announced a significant restructure of this magnitude, the issue hit Australia hard. In November 2008, following the acquisition of EDS,HP announced that it expected to cut some 24,600 jobs globally — or 7.5 percent of its workforce.
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.
HP also offshored Australian jobs back in 2006 to Malaysia, with the company saying at the time that most customers would accept the change, as long as service levels remained consistent.
When I look back at the past decade, I have to say that it has been a decade of constant redundancy rounds from HP in Australia. 2006, 2008, 2012 and now potentially 2015 … this is a company which appears to have constantly been restructuring and chopping staff, all down the line.
I can completely understand HP’s business rationale for the ongoing cuts. Like other major players such as IBM, HP’s Australian operations are often forced to bear the brunt of decisions made by the company globally. These sorts of companies have been in operation for many decades now, and have to struggle constantly to change and adapt to the dynamic streams of technological change. Restructuring is a necessary part of this game.
However, I must also say that this sort of instability does have an impact on the company’s staff. I have spoken to many people over the years who have worked for HP in service delivery or product roles, and I rarely hear that it’s been a fantastic, long-term career experience. More typically it ends up being the case that people start in the IT industry somewhere like HP, and then eventually find other roles in organisations that may be a bit more agile.
I can’t say for sure right now whether HP is cutting jobs in Australia. But speculation does exist behind the scenes, and it would fit the trend. If you can let me know any further information, please use Delimiter’s anonymous tips form.