IBM has appealed a Fair Work Australia (FWA) order to negotiate pay increases, penalties rates and redundancy packages with its union members.
Lawyers for the computing giant yesterday argued that the Australian Services Union (ASU), with which it had been ordered to negotiate, may not be eligible to represent its Baulkham Hills employees.
The order to negotiate had been handed down by FWA Senior Deputy President Lea Drake in the form of a majority support determination on 23 April, 2010.
"A majority of employees employed by IBM Australia Limited ... being employees who will be covered by a single enterprise agreement, want to bargain with IBM being an employer who will be covered by the proposed agreement," the workplace relations tribunal determined.
The ASU hoped to negotiate pay increases, overtime penalty rates and redundancy payments before May 12, when IBM was expected to announce plans to cut 17 jobs at its Baulkham Hills facility.
The union hoped to secure bonus redundancy payments should an employee be made redundant because his or her job was moved offshore.
But Melbourne-based Maddocks Lawyers, representing IBM, claimed Drake "erred in concluding that the ASU was or was capable of being a bargaining representative in respect of batch operators and/or infrastructure operators who would be covered by the proposed single enterprise agreement."
ASU's NSW branch secretary Sally McManus said the union planned to fight the stay and the appeal.
"IBM have already informed the ASU that they intend to announce that at least 20 percent of these workers will lose their jobs as they scramble to put in place their offshore centre in China," she told iTnews.
"IBM is using the almost unlimited resources it has available to it as one of the largest and richest multinationals in the world to try and stop a group of its employees exercising their rights to collectively bargain under Australian law."
IBM spokesman Matt Mollett confirmed the appeal.
"IBM has filed an appeal regarding the majority support determination made by Fair Work Australia," he told iTnews.
"We continue to work directly with our employees to ensure their individual interests are central throughout the redeployment process.
"In addition to redeployment opportunities, IBM provides comprehensive support services including fully funded career transition programs for affected employees.
"We will continue to brief the ASU on any decisions that are made," he said.