IBM sacks staff on strike against severance following Lenovo deal

US company fires staff striking over terms offered following deal with Chinese PC giant

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 12 March, 2014, 4:58am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 12 March, 2014, 5:21pm

Nineteen workers at an IBM factory in Shenzhen have been fired after their week-long strike against severance payments, the Southern Metropolis Daily reported yesterday.

About 1,000 workers at IBM Systems Technology Company (ISTC), the server-making unit of IBM, had been on strike since March 3 after the management announced the terms of their transfer to Chinese computer maker Lenovo.

The 19 workers were fired on Monday for disobeying company orders, absence without leave and gathering together during work hours, according to the Southern Metropolis Daily. Their contracts were terminated immediately and they were ordered to leave the company without compensation.

Lenovo announced in January a deal to buy IBM's server factory for US$2.3 billion. The agreement saw Shenzhen-based ISTC become a wholly owned subsidiary of Lenovo.

IBM declined to comment on the dismissals yesterday. Last week, a spokesman for the company said:

"Employees currently involved in x86 [server] operations in Shenzhen have a personal choice of remaining with ISTC under terms and conditions comparable in aggregate to what they currently are receiving, or they can voluntarily choose what we believe is an equitable severance package and resign from ISTC."

Lenovo promised in a statement yesterday that workers' pay and welfare package would be the same as before. But many employees were still protesting at the company premises demanding better severance payments and insisting they did not want to work for Lenovo. The company has about 48,000 staff worldwide.

Guangdong province, a major mainland manufacturing hub, has seen frequent strikes that were sparked by the closure, merger or relocation of factories since the global financial crisis.