Caspari to meet Vic EDS staff today

EDS staff are today gathering for a "town hall" meeting in Melbourne; however, spokespeople for the company would not confirm whether the issue of pay cuts would be debated.

EDS staff are today gathering for a "town hall" meeting in Melbourne; however, spokespeople for the company would not confirm whether the issue of pay cuts would be debated.

David Caspari
(Credit: EDS)

An EDS spokesperson late yesterday confirmed the division's chief David Caspari would meet with Victorian staff today at the company's town hall, which follows a similar meeting held at its Burwood headquarters in Sydney last week.

"Town halls are part of our regular internal communications process. It is not our policy to discuss the content of internal staff communications," the spokesperson said.

The spokesperson would not confirm whether Caspari was visiting Melbourne to discuss the company's proposed pay cut negotiation, which was pitched to staff as an initiative to save jobs.

HP-EDS's 6000 staff in Australia and New Zealand have been asked to consider taking a 5 to 10 per cent pay cut in line with a global announcement made in February by HP's chief executive Mark Hurd.

The meeting will be restricted to staff, while union representatives from APESMA (Association of Professional Engineers, Scientists and Managers, Australia) had not been invited, according to its industrial relations director Michael Butler.

"The last time we met was 25 March to discuss the recent round of redundancies and it was just an update. We were advised of the 180 redundancies that had been announced in the current round represented the last cuts," Butler told ZDNet.com.au.

However, HP-EDS had not given any guarantee that the pay cuts would prevent further job losses in the future, said Butler, who has urged the company to consider, at the very least, short-term guarantees to provide staff a proper footing for negotiating the pay cuts.

"Potentially that has a real impact on whether people are going to reduce their pay on a voluntary basis. Some will ask, if they're going to be made redundant anyway, why not stay on current salary?

"I would think they should, by now, give guarantees for job security, even if it's for a fixed period," said Butler.

Butler said HP-EDS had told APESMA the pay cuts would be implemented by the end of April, and that the company was preparing a "frequently asked questions" brochure regarding the pay cuts which it intended to roll out shortly after the Easter break.

"The election to accept or reject the pay cut will be a period for two weeks and staff will be able to nominate electronically whether they accept the pay cut," said Butler.

APESMA has also created a web bulletin board for its EDS members, which had drawn out "fairly lively discussion", though the details were confidential, said Butler.

"People are very concerned and are finding this a very difficult decision," he said.