IBM Stalls Looming Industrial Action

IBM Global Services Australia (IBM GSA) stalled industrial action by staff last week who threatened to take industrial action and disrupt services if enterprise bargaining demands were not met.

Negotiations between IBM GSA and the CPSU (Community and Public Sector Union) Communications Union were still in deadlock late last week and no agreement had been reached between the parties.

CPSU industrial officer, Priya Carey, said the dispute with IBM GSA is over the company's refusal to negotiate an enterprise agreement that covers all employees working on Telstra contracts.

Carey said IBM GSA is willing to negotiate an enterprise agreement with the 1000 staff who joined the company when Telstra's IT department was outsourced to the computer giant in 1997 but is excluding a further 3000 staff who have come on board in the past two years.

She said all IBM GSA's Telstra contract workers want the right to "collectively bargain" as they "do the same job, on the same site and should be covered by the same agreement".

Accusing IBM GSA of being "afraid of unionism", Carey said the CPSU is deeply concerned by management's hard line on the issue and it is providing no real reason for refusing an enterprise agreement that covers all staff.

A spokeswoman for IBM GSA said the company could not comment on details of the negotiations, which had been continuing for two days but said, "we support the right of employees to choose whether they join an association".

"We seek excellence in our workforce and reward is based on merit and that includes providing competitive salaries and incentives," she said, refusing to disclose any further details.

If agreement is not reached, the CPSU said it will definitely take strike action, which will potentially disrupt IBM and Telstra services.

IBM GSA employs 4000 workers to perform work previously done by Telstra and the CPSU said the company is expected to take on further Telstra contracts which will involve the transfer of another 1000 employees.

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