IBM has begun offshoring: union

The Australian Services Union (ASU) today said that IT giant IBM would offshore a minimum of 17 jobs from its offices in Baulkham Hills, NSW

The Australian Services Union (ASU) today said that IT giant IBM would offshore a minimum of 17 jobs from its offices in Baulkham Hills, NSW.

IBM outsources

Sally McManus
(Credit: ZDNet Australia)

Last February, ASU branch secretary Sally McManus said that workers had been told that services for each of IBM's customers, except for the Federal Government, could potentially be sent offshore to low-cost centres in India and China.

McManus today said that at least 17 IBM jobs from Baulkham Hills office were being sent offshore. If true, it would be the first known layoffs as part of the union's claim that IBM is moving to offshore 800 staff.

"The only people in NSW that I cover are workers at the flight deck in Baulkham hills and what IBM has told us is that there will be a minimum of 17 jobs lost there, but they can't tell us for sure," McManus told ZDNet Australia today. "They said that the government contracts are going to stay in Australia and some of the large banks are going to stay in Australia, but every other contract is still in scope. That's the terms they use, and they don't know the final numbers."

There were currently around 80 people at the Baulkham Hills office, she said. "Obviously the major pressing issue is around redundancies because [IBM] has told us that they're going to make announcements on the 12th of May," she said. "And so that's only two weeks away."

According to McManus, workers at the "Flight Deck" office at Baulkham Hills provide systems support to all of IBMs customers, including the likes of Qantas, Westpac, St George, and a whole number of others.

In March, ZDNet Australia revealed that Qantas' contract with the IT giant didn't stipulate that work had to be done onshore. "There are no stipulations in our arrangements with IBM that require work to be done on or offshore," Qantas said at the time.

In the background, IBM is currently in a bitter dispute with the ASU at Fair Work Australia, the national workplace relations tribunal. The ASU last Friday successfully won the right to have IBM negotiate directly with it on a number of matters. "For some unknown reason IBM is saying that they need to get legal advice as to what they do, and I've given them until 5pm today to agree to meet and negotiate," she said.

McManus said that negotiations were not just on redundancies, but also on pay rises, which she said workers hadn't received in six years.

If IBM didn't meet the union's 5pm deadline, the union would meet with its members and consider whether or not it'll go back to Fair Work Australia or whether it'll consider industrial action, McManus said.

"We have complied with all legal requirements and briefed our employees and the Australian Services Union," IBM said in a statement to ZDNet Australia. "IBM continuously transforms its business, rebalancing skills and capabilities in order to meet the changing needs of clients and our business as a whole. We are hiring in 2010, and expect to end the year with more employees than when the year began."