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Friday, 30 April 2010 11:58

Union sets 5pm deadline for IBM - UPDATED

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The Australian Services Union has given global computing giant IBM a deadline of 5pm today to comply with a decision handed down last week by Fair Work Australia which it says obliges the company to negotiate with the union in good faith, or it will seek further orders against the company from the Court.

Sally McManus, secretary of the ASU in NSW, said that its dispute with IBM had been underway since 2007, and that the company had resisted all attempts to negotiate with the union. A group of 80 IBM employees working at IBM's Baulkham Hills offices, North West of Sydney, who provide service and support to IBM clients including Westpac, St George, Qantas and the Federal Government had joined the union and asked the ASU to negotiate with the computer giant on their behalf.

With the introduction last year of the new industrial relations regime, the ASU had challenged IBM's anti-union stance with Fair Work Australia, launching an action against the company last November. According to McManus FWA's decision was delivered last week, and obliges IBM to negotiate with the ASU.

It is understood this is the first time that the computer company will have been dragged to the negotiating table by a union anywhere in the world.

IBM issued the following statement shortly after the ASU's 5pm deadline expired; "IBM is unable to provide comment, as we are awaiting reasons for the Order issued by Fair Work Australia."

According to McManus the FWA decision which obliges IBM to negotiate in good faith with the union only applies to the NSW workers at Baulkham Hills. But she said that IBM also had workers performing similar roles in Clayton and Ballarat in Victoria, and Cumberland Forest in NSW, and that if they were to join the union the ASU could negotiate with IBM on their behalf also.

She said that the Baulkham Hills employees were concerned particularly about the potential for their roles to be offshored to China or India, and that there were indications that as many as 17 of the 80 jobs could be lost shortly. 'What the workers want at Baulkham Hills is improved redundancy options, and some have not had a pay rise in six or seven years,' she claimed.

 


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