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Jangling nerves

He said that staff are “incredibly nervous” because of the number of voluntary redundancies already undertaken by EDS over the past year. “People are worried that the takeover will mean more dramatic changes [including the possibility of compulsory redundancies] and we are worried about what the merger will mean.”

Steel told us that the latest job cuts in Blighty were now expected to be in the low 200s, however he could not confirm any numbers. “EDS has been very careful about how they handle this over a long period of time because if the numbers get too big the consultation period gets much larger. So, in some respect, they’ve been quite clever in keeping them in quite small batches,” he added.

HP will close the $13.9bn global deal to buyout EDS in the third quarter of this year, with details of the agreement expected to be finalised no later than next Monday (18 August). The computer giant was given an overwhelming nod of approval from the firm’s shareholders late last month. Both companies have also received clearance to merge by European Union and US regulatory authorities.

Meanwhile, Steel told us that the union hasn’t had any direct discussions with HP at this point. He added that PCS has seen membership increase dramatically, which demonstrates the unease being felt among EDS workers right now.

He said HP will “have to recognise us around the public service contracts with TUPE entitlements. But beyond that I don’t imagine that HP will be desperate to get involved with the unions and we’ll have to work very hard to make sure they have to. But signs are encouraging.”

EDS currently employs around 16,500 staff in the UK alone. It holds a number of key public sector contracts that include providing IT services to the Department for Work and Pensions and the Ministry of Defence.

We have asked EDS if it can confirm its voluntary redundancy plan has indeed been extended to more employees to help the firm hit its cull target. However, at time of writing it is yet to respond to our request for comment. ®

Update

EDS has since been in touch to tell us that it does not "recognise the 20 per cent figure suggested".

The company is "focused on ensuring that as our business needs change, we can reskill and redeploy our people in line with those needs," it said in a canned statement.

"We are currently focused on such activity in specific areas of our UK operation. This does include consideration around voluntary severance, which is on a very limited basis."

EDS added that any "future workforce management decisions" would be communicated first to "our people and respective consulting bodies". The firm also told El Reg that HP's acquisition of EDS "is not related to this activity."

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