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."
Australian Services Union branch secretary Sally McManus discusses the results of the secret ballot last week on whether IBM workers should strike, and its consequences for the company and its workers.
Despite the small number of IBM workers involved in the upcoming strike, their walking off work could have a dire effect on many of IBM's customers — including Westpac, Qantas, Customs and Centrelink — according to the Australian Services Union.
Australian Services Union branch secretary Sally McManus tells ZDNet.com.au what IBM workers want out of the pending strike.
IBM workers once believed they didn't need a union because working conditions used to be the best in the industry, but the competitive market has led to cost cutting measures which have had their toll, according to the Australian Services Union.