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Opinion - EWC Meeting May 2018
European Works Council Opinion - EWC Meeting May 2018

"It is time to stand up and to show that we are

proud to be GTS employees

", said GTS Europe Leader Bart Van den Daele. With around one third of the European employees, GTS generated around half of the total revenue in 2017, being the most important player in the European services market. "I expect GTS in Europe to grow in 2018, with positive implications for our workforce in both the countries and European Delivery Centres", he added.

2018 is for GTS the year of transformation. IBM Services was launched as one brand name combining GTS and GBS as one Services organisation in the market, delivering relevant offerings and solutions as one IBM team. The outline and significant implications of the 'Transformation 2.0’ program for GTS in Europe have become clearer at the meeting. The EWC welcomes the allocation of a significant education and re-skilling budget and is pleased to hear that there should be no obstacles for GTS employees to sign up for education and (re)certification programs. Bart Van den Daele made it clear, that should employees feel that they are blocked in participating in this education program, they should simply send him an e-mail. At the same time, IBM management introduced the 'bench' in GTS. Part of the GTS employee population will be moved from their current jobs to this bench in order to be re- and up-skilled for future client needs. The EWC is concerned about the possible risk of a negative image and impact on the morale of GTS colleagues being on this bench.

IBM also wishes to transform and optimise the GTS IS Delivery Model, by introducing agile work methods including so-called squads, chapters, tribes and possibly co-locations. The EWC questions the value-add of these elements within GTS in Europe and requests that IBM senior management informs and involves local employee representative bodies if agile is to be implemented in European countries. "We are not offering a career for life, but we care about the life time career", stated Alan Wild, VP HR at today’s EWC meeting. Over the past year and a half, IBM has started to develop a first series of transitional solutions, e.g. (un)paid Leave of Absence, sabbatical, Bridge to Retirement and job-to-job alternatives inside IBM's ecosystem with business partners and customers. With transitional solutions, IBM aims to optimise our workforce in a more sustainable way, offering longer term alternatives for traditional, short term restructuring actions. After Germany, France, Italy, Spain and BeNeLux, transitional solutions will now be made available across the whole of Europe. The EWC was informed that in 2017, a significant number of IBM employees in these countries have found alternative work inside or outside the company. As of 2018, IBM has started to develop transitional solutions to the Nordic countries, UKI and several countries in the CEE region as well.

The EWC supports IBM's focus on the employability of its employees and welcomes the broader scope of the program. However, the EWC membership believes that more transitional solutions can be and should be developed and that by sharing and implementing best practices across Europe, consistency and attractiveness of the program will increase. Voluntary participation is considered crucial, as well as job security and work guarantees to employees who decide to apply for transitional solutions. Furthermore, a more structural and holistic approach around transitional solutions is needed for Europe. Employees should, for example, have clear insight into their JRSS profiles, understand how employable and viable they are today, what expectations and career opportunities there are for them in the near future, how possible skill gaps can be bridged, and what help and support they can find inside IBM. The EWC believes that this requires a culture change. Reflecting on one's career and relevance to the company should be without any fear or repercussions. Managers should be well positioned and equipped to facilitate and support adequate and relevant career conversations with their employees. Facilitating cross LoB mobility without accounting restrictions has to be improved to make the program a success. The EWC is keen to continue the dialogue on this with IBM senior management.

Digitalisation and automation of decision making have become more prominent inside the company. IBM has now developed CogniPay, an Augmented Intelligence system providing managers with 'expert advice' to help them make compensation decisions regarding their employees. CogniPay combines employee data from several internal sources in a dashboard and applies machine learning and Watson Conversational Assistant technology. The EWC understands that CogniPay might be of help to managers, but is unable to verify its transparency and objectivity. The membership therefore requests full insight in the measurements, data sources, dimensions and criteria, their weighting and the algorithms in CogniPay and wishes to ensure that managers can override any provided recommendations. CogniPay should not impose any automatic decisions, managers must always remain responsible themselves for compensation decisions for their employees. The EWC membership expects CogniPay to be fully compliant with GDPR. As CogniPay is not expected to be implemented in Europe before 2019, the EWC requests that IBM senior management informs and involves local employee representative bodies in any plans to implement as soon as they are made.

IBM European Works Council

Brussels - 17th May, 2018