Huge IT lay­offs trig­ger la­bor fric­tion

China Daily (Canada) - - FRONT PAGE - By GAO YUAN in Bei­jing gaoyuan@chi­nadaily.com.cn

La­bor un­rest is ex­pected to spread fol­low­ing mas­sive lay­offs at sev­eral IT gi­ants, with ex­perts calling on multi­na­tion­als to take the is­sue se­ri­ously.

Cisco Sys­tems has an­nounced a plan for global job cuts, while thou­sands of Mi­crosoft em­ploy­ees in China are try­ing to ne­go­ti­ate a deal for bet­ter com­pen­sa­tion fol­low­ing lay­offs.

“La­bor dis­putes in­volv­ing over­seas in­for­ma­tion tech­nol­ogy com­pa­nies are set to grow for the next two years at least as the Chi­nese econ­omy slows,” Zhang Zhiru, a la­bor rights ex­pert at Shen­zhen Chun­feng La­bor Dis­putes Ser­vices Cen­ter, said on Thurs­day.

He said that although most of the IT com­pa­nies are will­ing to pro­vide com­pen­sa­tion higher than that pro­vided for un­der Chi­nese law, this does not mean they have done a per­fect job.

“The law only sets a min­i­mum level. Com­pa­nies with bet­ter fi­nan­cial power should def­i­nitely pay more (in lay­off com­pen­sa­tion) if em­ploy­ees need this,” Zhang said.

Cisco, the world’s largest tele­com equip­ment maker, plans to cut up to 6,000 em­ploy­ees glob­ally. It did not say how many em­ploy­ees will lose their jobs in China, one of the world’s big­gest IT con­sumers.

Mi­crosoft’s big­gest cut in the com­pany’s his­tory could cost at least 4,000 jobs in China, ac­cord­ing to a person fa­mil­iar with the is­sue. Most of the cuts will come at three Nokia fa­cil­i­ties the com­pany ac­quired months ago.

More than 500 em­ploy­ees at a Mi­crosoft hand­set devel­op­ment site in Bei­jing handed in a signed re­quest last week calling for di­rect talks with com­pany ex­ec­u­tives on lay­off ar­range­ments.

The US soft­ware gi­ant has de­clined to give de­tails of its lay­off plans in China.

“We have com­mit­ted to an ear­li­est leav­ing date of the end of Septem­ber. From the time the an­nounce­ment was made, this is longer than Nokia’s ear­lier prac­tice in China,” said Don­ald MacRae, hu­man re­sources direc­tor for Mi­crosoft’s hand­set unit in China.

Mi­crosoft is of­fer­ing em­ploy­ees at least a fur­ther month’s salary than pro­vided for un­der Chi­nese law. The em­ploy­ees are ask­ing for more and for a longer “buffer­ing pe­riod”.

Chi­nese law states that em­ploy­ees are en­ti­tled to a month’s com­pen­sa­tion for each year they have worked for a com­pany, plus an ad­di­tional month’s pay.

Mike Dai, a smart­phone de­vel­oper at the plant, de­scribed the com­pany’s move as a “vi­o­lent ac­tion”. Big­ger protests are be­ing planned, he said.

Zheng Dongliang, dean of the In­sti­tute of La­bor Science, said di­rect di­a­logue be­tween com­pa­nies and em­ploy­ees is the best way to solve la­bor dis­putes.

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