Chinese workers who went on strike to protest IBM’s sale of an x86 server plant to Lenovo and the employment terms that were part of that $2.3 billion deal are being paid $6,000 to accept the transfer.

IBM (NYSE: IBM) confirmed it is offering a “transition package” but did not respond when asked if a similar deal had been offered to any x86 employees in other countries.

In the U.S., no reports have surfaced of IBMers being given bonuses. Some 2,000 IBM workers in the Triangle are part of the group being sold to Lenovo, the world’s No. 1 PC manufacturer. Lenovo on Thursday confirmed that it will locate the x86 group in two RTP buildings that cover 450,000 square feet of space. Additional space will be constructed, the company added.

Lee Conrad, a retired, veteran IBMer who heads up unionizing efforts, says he has not heard of such a bonus in other Big Blue business sales.

The Financial Times in London and other Chinese media reported the payments, quoting IBM workers at the plant in Shenzhen. The city is near Hong Kong. 

Despite the incentive to move to Lenovo, which has said it wants all 7,500 IBM x86 server workers to accept transfers, hundreds of the estimated 1,000 workers involved in the strike have decided to quit.

They are receiving severance packages.

In response to questions from WRALTechWire, IBM spokesperson Jeff Cross confirmed a “transition package” was offered.

“We are not discussing the specifics of the transition package for Shenzhen employees other than to say that a majority of employees have decided to transfer to Lenovo following the closing of the deal,” said Cross, who works in external relations for the Systems & Technology Group at IBM.

Also known as STG, the Systems & technology group includes the x86 server business that Lenovo hopes to acquire. Government regulators have yet to approve the deal.

In a statement on its website earlier this week, Lenovo said that while the strike was an IBM matter, the company said the workers would receive the same pay and benefits they received from IBM if they accepted the transfer.

Lee Conrad, the national coordinator of Alliance@IBM which wants a union at IBM and is a Communications Workers of America affiliate, said the China deal is an exception to normal IBM actions.

“We have not heard of a retention bonus paid to IBM workers involved in the selling of a business unit before,” Conrad said.

“It appears the push back by the Chinese workers paid off for some.”

“Non-Solicitation, No-Hire” Provision

IBM has had very little to say about how workers who would be transferred are being affected by the deal.

“[It is standard practice in the Information Technology industry to have a non-solicitation, no-hire provision in M&A contracts,” Cross said when asked about a recent report in Compture Reseller News that IBMers had been told to “either accept the transfer to Lenovo or leave IBM.” CRN cited unnamed sources and described the IBM edict as an “ultimatum.”

“We are not going to discuss the specific terms of this contact,” IBM’s Cross said last week.

Cross also would not talk about CRN’s report about layoffs in the entire STG group.

“[Regarding] the CNET story that, citing an anonymous source, said ‘up to 25%’ of the Systems & Technology Group could be let go, we don’t comment on rumors,” Cross said.

IBM is in the process of a $1 billion work force “rebalancing” that it announced in January, and an unknown number of workers have been cut at multiple IBM locations around the world.

IBM employs an estimated 9,500 people in North Carolina, and workers have told Alliance@IBM that layoffs have hit the Triangle.

Lenovo’s Appeal

In its statement, Lenov appealed to workers to join it.

“The talent we are acquiring is a great asset, and key to our long term success,” Lenovo said in a statement published on its website earlier this week.

“Lenovo will rely on these employees to build the business after closing and looks forward to welcoming them to Lenovo in several months’ time.

“To ensure a smooth transition Lenovo is committed to provide opportunity for all employees from IBM’s x86 server department who transfer to Lenovo, without any reduction of their wages and benefits.

“We value their contributions and our goal is to provide them with continued opportunity pending approval of this acquisition.”