HP could impose compulsory redundancies for EDS staff

Still waiting for volunteers to step forward

homeless man with sign

Exclusive EDS UK and Ireland-based employees will face compulsory firings if Hewlett-Packard doesn’t hit its targets for voluntary redundancies for the first half of its fiscal 2009, The Register has learned.

HP confirmed last month that it would axe 3,378 jobs in the UK. Around 90 per cent of these are understood to be EDS staff. The vendor plans to trim its global workforce by 25,000 over the next two years.

HP hopes to slash 2,081 jobs through the voluntary redundancy process during its H1 period, which runs from November 2008 to April 2009, according to a memo sent to EDS staff working in the ITO-BPO and Applications department.

Following a voluntary redundancy scheme last month, 663 people will be leaving the firm, but that’s not enough.

As a result HP has kicked off a second round of voluntary redundancies open to all employees within ITO-BPO and Apps (including IE and regional services centres) in the hope of convincing more people to walk.

“If we do not meet the synergy targets for H1 2009 through this second VR programme it is likely we will move to compulsory redundancies, subject to consultation with employee representatives and unions,” said HP's UK and Ireland managing director Steve Gill and EDS regional veep Sean Finnan in the joint memo, dated 27 November. “We will continue to inform you in a timely manner about the next steps.”

The company has given those interested in applying for voluntary redundancy until 5 December to put themselves forward for the latest round of job cuts.

Union Unite has repeatedly slammed HP for failing to consult it on the job cuts. It recently demanded that CEO Mark Hurd, who visited the UK in October, provide full consultation, avoid compulsory redundancies and to redeploy and re-skill staff remaining at HP.

Unite national officer Peter Skyte told The Register that HP will be meeting with the union next Wednesday (3 December) to discuss the firm's latest "business rationale" regarding EDS staff.

He also reiterated the union's stance on redundancies.

"We oppose compulsory redundancy and believe more can be done so that HP can avoid it," he said. "EDS had a positive record with redeploying rather than laying off staff, and it's important that HP follows that example."

We asked HP if it could comment on its plans to move to compulsory redundancies in the UK and Ireland if enough voluntary redundancies are not met in H1 2009.

A spokeswoman at the firm told us: "As part of the global restructuring program announced by Mark Hurd on September 15 2008, approximately 9,300 positions in EMEA will be affected over the course of the next two years.

"HP has opened a voluntary redundancy scheme to EDS employees in certain business groups." ®

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