The hot potato of staff count reductions has been tossed into the hands of employees again in the past week by the French subsidiaries of both IBM Corp and Digital Equipment Corp. Upon their return from the Toussaint holiday on Tuesday, all 16,000 employees at IBM France SA were expected to receive a letter from […]
The hot potato of staff count reductions has been tossed into the hands of employees again in the past week by the French subsidiaries of both IBM Corp and Digital Equipment Corp. Upon their return from the Toussaint holiday on Tuesday, all 16,000 employees at IBM France SA were expected to receive a letter from management asking them to agree to a 7.7% cut in their net salary, swingeingly retroactive to January. As an incentive, IBM is offering a bonus equivalent to two months’ salary. The company expects to be able to cover the cost of the bonus with a response rate of between 60% and 70%. Although IBM France has said in its letter that employees refusing the cut will not be laid off, the unions are not reassured, says La Tribune-Defosses. There is no guarantee of maintaining sites, and even less on maintaining jobs, it quotes a representative of the CFDT union as saying. On the contrary, for jobs, it is the opposite trend that is being outlined, considering the management’s project to drop the age of pre-retirement to 50 years old; 4,800 people are potentially affected by this measure. If only half of them accept the measure, you see the hit on staffing levels. Despite having its last attempt at staff cuts refused by a court in Evry, Digital Equipment France has announced that it intends to reduce its staff by 727, or almost 25% of its 3,100 total, by the end of next year. DEC France SA lost about $100m last year, but that does not cut any ice with its principal union, the CFDT, which insists on seeing an absence of economic justification for the cuts. For the previous plan, the expert that we brought in concluded an absence of economic justifications and the court also invalidated the procedure, a union board member told La Tribune. Without demonstration of such justification, the union says it will refuse to negotiate any measure accompanying the plan, notably that of reducing work hours. A scheme to cut employee work hours by 20%, which would have cut salaries by about the same percentage IBM has proposed, 7.6%, was proposed by management after the failure of its previous attempt at cuts. Sofres SA, probably France’s best-known market research and polling outfit, conducted a survey of Digital France employees, to which 84% of them responded. Only 54% of the respondents said they would opt for a long-term scheme involving a reduction in their working hours. Nonetheless, as the CFDT representative pointed out to La Tribune, it was just a survey, and it is likely that the level of would be higher if employees really had to choose between losing their job and cutting down their working week. The survey also revealed a striking degree of pessimism about the company’s entire future, with a full 63% of the respondents saying that they believed that even if every employee made a big effort, it would still not be enough to save DEC.