Australian employees of outsourcer EDS have firmly rejected the company's latest remuneration offer, with staff voting down a deal that would have frozen wage levels but improved some entitlements.
According to a statement from EDS, the so-called People Agreement was defeated when 1573 versus 1064 voted against the proposal. The company says 2637 employees were eligible to vote.
The rejection puts the outsourcer in an awkward position, with staff known to be largely unhappy about current pay rates, especially in Canberra where rents, rates and the cost of living have increased by as much as 20 percent in the last three years.
EDS Australia managing director Chris Mitchell is putting a brave face on the rejection, saying the company will move immediately to improve conditions and wage levels.
"We are disappointed with the results because we believed we had offered substantial improvements to the People Agreement, we understand that our employees have sent us a very clear message, and we are responding," Mitchell said.
Mitchell added that he had sent a message "to the EDS Australia team beginning a series of actions, including an independent, external review of our compensation and performance practices."
"We, as a corporate community, intend to work together to reach a solution that is in the best interests of our people, clients and business."
Meanwhile, EDS announced it will also immediately implement wage rises of between 3 percent to 5 percent, substantially parental leave and institute a review of "tandby, callout rates and overtime" to be conducted by industrial consultancy Mercer.
EDS said it hoped the ongoing dispute will be finalized by September 19.
EDS' clients in Australia include the Commonwealth Bank, the Australian Taxation Office and the Australian Customs Service.