Employees of computing and IT services giant HP/EDS across Europe took part in demonstrations yesterday against the recently merged company’s plan to make 24,500 workers redundant.
Protests, organised by members of the trade union Unite, took place outside the company’s premises in London and Bristol, as well as sites in Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Italy and Spain.
In the UK, the company plans to reduce its head count by 3,378 jobs. Unite spokesperson Peter Skyte said in a statement that the cuts could not be justified by the economic climate.
“This is not about the credit crunch taking its toll again,” Skyte said. “HP/EDS are cutting a quarter of the UK workforce because this already rich company wants to increase its profits by indiscriminately cost-cutting.
“In 2008, HP’s profit rose 15% to $8.3 billion, sales climbed 13% to $118.4 billion and it is outrageous that HP chief executive Mark Hurd’s 2008 compensation rose by 31% while his workforce is being forced to make huge sacrifices,” he said.
HP/EDS responded to news of the protests with the following statement: “HP is aware of limited union activities taking place at some of its European sites due to concerns from the unions about those positions affected by workforce restructuring associated with the integration of EDS into HP announced during September 2008.”
“HP is fully supportive of employee representation in Europe and we aim to consult regularly with the European Works Council (EWC) on maters relating to the integration of EDS,” it said.
“Where possible HP may redeploy some impacted positions into new roles created by the integration,” the company added.
HP agreed to acquire EDS for $13.6 billion in May 2008.