IBM has been recruiting "scab" labour to fill the gap that could be left by striking IBM Flightdeck workers, according to the Australian Services Union.
"We understand that IBM has offered cash inducements, fairly large ones," said Sally McManus, branch secretary of the Australian Services Union.
Last week at the company's "Flightdeck" facility in Sydney's Baulkham Hills, 45 workers decided via secret ballot to strike for better pay and conditions. If IBM does not come to the negotiating table, it faces industrial action later this week.
If the money were spent on the workers' problems, instead of on inflated wages for replacements, the issues would disappear, McManus said.
The company's move to engage what the union called "scab" labour has disenchanted workers, according to McManus.
"The workers see this in a very, very bad light," she said, adding that the employees felt that if IBM cared, it would try and address their concerns rather than pay replacement workers more money than the employees themselves were entitled to.
Despite IBM's efforts to reduce the impact of the strike through such measures, McManus believed industrial action would still be effective. "You can't just find replacement workers to do this type of work. It's not as if there are hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of skilled workers who understand the IT infrastructure of these companies."
Yesterday, Qantas and Westpac, two of the customers which McManus had said would be affected by the strike, seemed confident it would not have wide-reaching repercussions, after taking precautions and receiving reassurances from IBM.
"I'm sure like every company does, IBM will be telling the world and its customers 'Don't worry, we've got everything under control'," McManus said. "I've heard that a hundred times and it's never true."
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