IBM Australia, union in talks on up to 400 job cuts

IBM Corp’s Australian ‘redeployment’ program could see hundreds of workers at its outsourcing division lose jobs, union officials warn.

Between 200 and 400 staff at IBM Global Services Australia have been told they will be made redundant if not redeployed internally by June 18, according to reports made to a union body.

Discussions with members reveal that between 200 and 400 of IBM GSA’s workforce in Australia are in the redeployment program, according to Community and Public Sector Union (CPSU) assistant secretary Stephen Jones.

The impending cuts follow news of at least 747 workers shed from four plants in the US in the past week in a move to pare expenses. According to media reports, the cuts are to be the first in a worldwide cull.

Jones said the union was not satisfied with the information it has received from the company.

IBM Australia is holding discussions with CPSU this week to discuss the redeployment program.

“(The union’s concerns are) the number (of people) involved and the level of benefits available if they are made redundant,” Jones said. “This is something that caused a dispute over a similar matter (of layoffs) last year. I hope we don’t go down the same path.”

Last year IBM GSA staff facing redundancy held a protest outside the company’s Sydney city headquarters in Sussex Street and CPSU members took two 48-hour strike actions at IBM GSA’s office in the northern Sydney suburb of St Leonards. The industrial action was a reaction to the announcement that 64 staff member positions would be made redundant or redeployed in a shake-up of the IT section at its St Leonards site.

“A mainly IT system generated redeployment process is under way,” Jones said. Under the program, staff enter their personal details and skills on a network that matches these against other positions in the network, he said.

IBM was not available for comment at deadline; however, earlier discussions with the company revealed the redeployment program is a “normal part of business operations”.

An IBM spokesperson Monday could not reveal the number of workers impacted by the redeployment program. She also declined to specify which parts of the business the redeployments would occur in, which departments the staff will be redeployed to or whether there would be job cuts down the track.

However, she said, “what is happening here in Australia is not the same program as has been reported in the U.S.”

“We are talking to some people about redeployment options to other parts of our business where there is continuing growth,” she said, adding where there are tangible growth areas in the market there will be new job opportunities.

According to the spokesperson, the company is changing its skill mix to reflect projections on the Asian market from various IT analysts. The program may save the jobs of local staff and position the company to leverage off growth areas in Asian market.

“IBM is constantly reassessing its skills mix to meet the demands of the marketplace,” she said.

Some of the projections by analysts she cited include a US$75 billion projection for IT services and products and 120 million Internet users in Asia by close of 2002. IBM is online at