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Monday, 03 May 2010 16:19

ASU weighs options in IBM-union standoff

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The Australian Services Union plans to meet with its 80 members working at IBM's Baulkham Hills Flight Deck centre shortly to decide on its next step, after the computing giant failed to meet the ASU's Friday deadline to start good faith negotiations.

The ASU says its members have three main options: request good faith bargaining orders from the Fair Work Commission; request a pre strike ballot; or wait for IBM's next move.

The ASU had given IBM a deadline of 5pm last Friday to comply with a decision handed down by the Commission which it says obliges the company to negotiate with the union in good faith. Sally McManus, NSW secretary of the ASU, said that IBM responded to the union at 4.58pm to say that it wanted first to read the Commission's reasons for its decision.

McManus said that the Commissioner had said at the time the decision was provided in April that she would publish her reasons for the decision at a later date.  Late last week IBM stated that it was 'unable to provide comment, as we are awaiting reasons for the Order issued by Fair Work Australia.'

According to McManus any delay might suit IBM which she claims is planning to retrench at least 17 of the 80 Baulkham Hills workers. 'They're happy to drag this out as long as they can,' she said. One of the key issues the union wants to tackle with IBM is retrenchment entitlements for its members.

IBM has long resisted any form of union engagement, but the introduction last year of the new industrial relations regime now makes it hard for any organisation operating in Australia to avoid having to negotiate pay and conditions for workers with representative unions. If the ASU achieves its ambitions it will be the first time that the computer company will have been dragged to the negotiating table by a union anywhere in the world.


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