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IT people check this out

IT people check this out

Old Sep 5th 2002, 5:26 am
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Default IT people check this out

IT staff roll sleeves for pay war
James Madden
SEPTEMBER 05, 2002

THEY wear suits and ties rather than hard hats and work boots. They don't chant about workers' rights or wave flags in the streets - although placards were timidly displayed for the cameras yesterday.

Is this the new face of the workplace protester?
Employment instability and the growth of contractual work is giving rise to a new breed of white-collar collectivism, with more professionals seeking the help of unions to protect their rights.

About 90 IT workers - most earning more than $70,000, some as much as $120,000 - assembled outside the Australian Industrial Relations Commission in Melbourne yesterday to protest against the ultimatum of their employer, Deloitte Consulting, to accept pay cuts of up to 50 per cent or face the sack.

The protesters are among 549 Deloitte staff who were told last month they had until tomorrow to agree to the company's terms.

They bought themselves some more negotiating time in the AIRC last night, after commissioner Greg Smith ordered further negotiations next week between Deloitte and the three unions representing the workers.

But, while the outcome of the talks will not be known until next Thursday, the big winners already are the unions.

Before the proposal, fewer than 20 Deloitte staff were members of the Community and Public Sector Union. In the past week, a further 110 have joined the union.

Dozens of other employees are also believed to have joined the Association for Professional Engineers Scientists and Managers Australia and the Australian Services Union since Deloitte management mooted the pay cuts.

Professionals rushing to join unions has not surprised CPSU communications secretary Stephen Jones.

"During the dotcom boom IT workers could command large salaries, but the global downturn in the industry has made people realise that it's not always going to be a bed of roses," Mr Jones said.

"Since the dotcom crash, people have become more wary about their long-term employment, and they have been able to see the benefits of being part of a collective and the power that being in a union gives them."
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