Lenovo makes guarantees to IBM strikers

Updated: 2014-03-12 09:07

By Chen Hong in Shenzhen, Guangdong (China Daily)

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As a labor strike at an IBM factory in Shenzhen continued for the ninth day, the computer giant Lenovo broke its silence on Tuesday with a statement that vowed to absorb all of the factory's ex-IBM employees.

Lenovo, which purchased IBM's low-end server business in January for $2.3 billion, also promised the employees they would get nearly the same salaries and benefit packages they had before the acquisition.

"We will take in all employees from IBM's x86 server unit and be fair in our arrangements. We guarantee that their pay and benefits will not be lower than before," the Lenovo statement said.

The company vowed to give equal job opportunities to the Shenzhen factory employees after the transaction. It will take in roughly 7,500 former IBM employees in more than 60 countries, including more than 1,000 workers at the Shenzhen factory who are employed in the departments of manufacturing, research, sales and marketing, according to the statement.

Lenovo, the world's biggest producer of personal computers, said that the deal is still waiting for approval and that the strike is an IBM internal matter. The deal is expected to close in the fourth quarter of this year.

Roughly one-third of the Shenzhen workers on strike have signed agreements to become a Lenovo employee or quit by Tuesday after IBM abruptly fired a group of workers on Monday for shutting down production, factory workers said.

But the strength of the strike is fading quickly, with last week's more than 1,000 strikers dwindling this week to about 100, said worker Wen Yong, who said he had just been fired.

The factory terminated the contracts of 20 workers active in the Monday strike, Wen said. The fired employees were said to have violated company policies by causing a shutdown in production.

"They were fired immediately and got no compensation. It's a sort of revenge," said Wen, who had been working at the factory for 10 years.

In a written statement to China Daily, IBM said it had taken disciplinary action against employees who refused to return to work, but declined to disclose the number of workers punished or details of the punishment.

"We are still working hard with the workers to ensure a smooth transfer to Lenovo when the deal closes," said the IBM statement.

IBM said it offered a compensation package to employees who agreed to quit by Wednesday, which the company said is "reasonable" and not "compulsory by Chinese laws".

Workers said the IBM factory offered a more favorable plan on Sunday for workers who agreed to sign a contract before March 12 to stay and work for Lenovo. The plan reportedly offered a bonus of 30,000 yuan ($4,880), half of which would be paid by the end of April and the rest in the first month after Lenovo takes over.

The factory had previously issued a smaller bonus of 6,000 yuan on March 3 with a signatory deadline of March 7. The workers considered the bonus to be insufficient and formed a strike.

The district government, human resources managers and trade unions are working to mediate between IBM management and the factory workers, said Wen Xianqing, a press official at Futian district government.



Lenovo makes guarantees to IBM strikers