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EDS knits bigger net for voluntary redundancies

Blighty staff worry if they'll ever meet HP

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Updated EDS has more than doubled the pool of workers pinpointed for possible voluntary redundancies in the UK, The Register has learned.

The firm's UK-based permanent and contracted employees are increasingly anxious about Hewlett-Packard’s imminent takeover and whether they will still have a job with the firm once the merger completes.

One anonymous inside source told The Register that EDS has significantly broadened its voluntary redundancy plan over the past month or so because of a lack of “suitable” volunteers.

Over the past few days we have heard from EDS employees who have claimed that yet another round of job cuts was in fact underway. Some have suggested the firm was hoping to say goodbye to as many as 20 per cent of the staff in the firm’s public sector unit, known internally as the HUB, over the coming months.

According to a July-dated internal EDS document, seen by The Reg, the company has shown 968 HUB contractors the door since May 2007. And it doesn't end there. EDS plans to let go of a further 71 contractors working on public sector projects by the end of 2008.

The firm has categorised remaining contractors benefits to EDS based on cost, length of service and particular skills. It is currently projecting its total end of year contractor headcount to be 200 for the HUB unit.

Meanwhile, the document also revealed EDS's progress with permanent staff: "Internal redeployment both within the HUB and from WTO [which ominously stands for Workplace Transfer Organisation] is being managed effectively, with a high volume of displaced staff backfilling for voluntary attrition," said EDS in the document.

Butcher sharpens knife

In May the IT outsourcing giant said it was planning to cut up to 90 UK-based jobs as part of its "ongoing restructuring and re-skilling programme". EDS workers were told that the firm had pinpointed some 700 jobs, where staff could apply for voluntary redundancy, which included 323 positions in the public sector (HUB) department.

However, EDS continues to insist that compulsory redundancies are “not on the radar” even though, according to the source, HP is “getting EDS to jump through hoops” ahead of the takeover.

The IT services company has been scaling back its workforce over the past year with announcements every few months about lay-offs. This slow drip effect has unsurprisingly left many staff fretting about their jobs.

Public and Commercial Services (PCS) union rep Graham Steel told El Reg that the rumour mill has been working overtime at the services giant:

“People at EDS in the UK, even at middle management level don’t really know what’s going on… Every week there are rumours that people will be on HP’s contracts to others suggesting that some parts of the business will stay with a firm EDS identity for a year or so before perhaps migrating to a new identity further down the track.”

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Next page: Jangling nerves

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