CPSU turns up the heat on IBM

In an escalation of union activity which began in early April 2001 members of the CPSU (Communications Union) are picketing the entry to the IBM building in Sussex Street Sydney.

According to CPSU assistant secretary, Stephen Jones, the picket line is part of a 48-hour stop work strike the union is conducting against the outsourcing giant IBM GSA, the second such action in just three weeks.

The current wave of union activity was sparked by a company announcement that 64 staff would face retrenchment in June this year. Jones claims 60 of the 64 staff are CPSU members who are being unfairly targeted, and are facing retrenchment without their full entitlements.

"When the workers were transferred to IBM GSA as a part of the outsourcing deal they were provided with guarentees which are not being upheld," Jones said. "While there are some positions being offered in Melbourne to replace those being lost in Sydney, many of the workers have families and it is not as if they can just jump on plane and relocate."

The strike and picket is an attempt to force IBM GSA, an outsourcing company jointly owned by IBM, Telstra and Lend Lease, to retract its decision to axe the 64 jobs.

According to Jones multiple meetings with IBM GSA representatives have resulted in a stalemate between the groups as both parties fail to reach a consensus on core issues.

"They [IBM GSA] are sticking their head in the sand over the whole issue," Jones said. "They are out of touch with their workers and the general public."

The CPSU is currently working on a submission to the Industrial Relations Commission in a further attempt to reach an agreement with IBM GSA. However, with the current stop-work set to end on April 18 at 7pm Jones has not ruled out further strike action over the matter.

IBM GSA representatives were contacted for comment, however they have yet to respond to CPSU claims.