RERSEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, N.C. – Unions from around the world are teaming up in their efforts to represent the more than 300,000 people working for IBM.
At a meeting in Paris last week, 55 representatives of 17 unions in 13 countries decided to form IBM Workers International Solidarity.
Heading up the effort is Lee Conrad, who is one of the driving forces behind Alliance@IBM CWA Local 1701 in New York.
In an e-mail, Conrad said the Solidarity movement is a response to IBM’s continuing efforts to offshore jobs to less expensive labor markets. Alliance@IBM has also spoken out strongly against a so-called “LEAN” program within IBM that is designed to improve productivity. Alliance@IBM counters by calling LEAN an acronym meaning “lay off every American now.”
“IBM Workers International Solidarity (IWIS) is the answer to IBM’s strategy of becoming a ‘globally integrated enterprise’,” Conrad said in an e-mail. “The IBM Employees need a globally unionized workforce!”
Conrad was named “international coordinator” for IWIS.
Use of the name Solidarity brings to mind the efforts of shipyard workers in Poland who formed a union around that name under the leadership of Lech Walesa.
Unions taking part in the organization other than Alliance@IBM included groups from Spain, Argentia, France, Finald, Germany, Japan, Belgium, Greece, Denmark, Sweden and India.
In a statement, the group outlined grievances against IBM and a series of demands.
“• As IBM tries to apply a strategy of eliminating all local ties and links and to operate on a global level with no accountability to national societies, labor regulations and national working conditions: IWIS is the employees advocate to force IBM in recognizing a Corporate Social Responsibility as defined in international standards and to be more respective to its employee representatives and unions in every country IBM is doing business.
“• While IBM formally acknowledges the legal rights of employees, the facts are IBM in practice does not apply them everywhere. There are cases where IBM acts against the Labor law, against the interests of employees and against union rights. Only a strong global network of union organized people within IBM can counteract this destructive attitude.
“• IWIS requests the support and action of all national unions and global union federations in order to fight for IBM employees rights.
“• All members of IWIS will stand together for this mission. They will act together along the belief that—an injury to one is an injury to all!
“• IWIS member unions will think globally and act locally to enforce the legal and legitimate rights of IBM employees and their unions all over the world. • “LEAN” as redefined by IBM will have a negative impact on employees and IWIS will oppose any job cuts.”
“• As IBM wants to introduce a “new compensation model” this year, IWIS demands salary and wage increases for every IBM employee by collective bargaining agreements in each country where IBM operates.
“• If IBM wants to introduce a “LEAN” process, IWIS demands IBM negotiate with unions (and/or legitimate workers representatives) in advance to avoid any job cuts.
“• IBM should acknowledge the legal rights and laws of employees and their representatives. IBM should respect the national labor standards in all countries and recognize their legitimate representative unions.
“• For union representation at IBM in every country. • Every IBM employee to become organized in a union.
“• To encourage unionists to support IWIS global actions
“• All unions representing IBM employees to join the IWIS network.”