IBM workers gear up for industrial action as job losses loom, says UNISON

Information technology (IT) workers – who provide IBM’s client, Scottish Power, with IT services – have voted overwhelmingly in favour of industrial action after the company said their jobs would end on 30 June, 2020.

UNISON announced the results of its consultative ballot today (Monday) which revealed a massive 90 per cent voted in favour of strike action.

The move affects 65 workers who are employed by IBM, which runs the contract for Scottish Power’s IT systems. Staff were notified by IBM in October 2019 that their jobs were coming to an end, but IBM and Scottish Power have refused to talk to the workforce since then about either redundancies or the transferring of their jobs.

49 staff work in IBM’s East Kilbride office and 16 staff work in Cheshire. All of these employees have worked on Scottish Power’s IT service for over 20 years.

Scottish Power’s IT function was contracted out over 20 years ago and a number of large IT companies have held the contract since, with the workforce being transferred over to their new employer under the Transfer of Undertakings Protection of Employment (TUPE) regulations.

UNISON will now move to hold an official ballot for industrial action, which has the potential to bring Scottish Power’s IT system to a standstill.

Gerry Crawley, UNISON regional organiser for Scottish Power, who represents the workforce, said: “Staff were told they were losing their jobs months ago, but these multinational companies are still not talking to UNISON about the 65 workers whose livelihoods are threatened. This is a stressful time for this very loyal workforce – most of whom have been with the company for over 20 years.

“UNISON has done its best to meet with IBM but they have continually refused to engage. We now have no choice but to ballot for industrial action and recommend UNISON members vote for strike action.”

• UNISON represents Scottish Power workers and other staff who work on Scottish Power outsourced contracts. UNISON is the largest trade union in the UK and Scotland.
• UNISON has carried out an indicative ballot which overwhelmingly backed official industrial action. Trade union law now requires UNISON to hold an official industrial ballot
• UNISON is also pursuing legal action against IBM on failure to consult on TUPE regulations.
• There are 65 employees whose jobs are threatened. 49 work for IBM in East Kilbride, 16 work for IBM in Cheshire. This workforce are a long-standing loyal workforce. The IT function has been subject to outsourcing on a number of occasions. In all previous transfers, staff have been protected by TUPE.
• Scottish Power is a subsidiary of Spanish company Iberdrola, who bought it in 2006. The company was formed in 1990 from the South of Scotland Electricity Board. It later bought Manweb, the energy company supplying Merseyside and North Wales

UNISON Contacts
• Gerry Crawley, regional organiser: 07958 121 805
• Trisha Hamilton, communications officer, 07943 507 307