A European Workers' Group Is Suing HP Over Job Cuts

Meg WhitmanHP CEO Meg Whitman

Photo: AP

An organisation that represents HP’s European employees is so fed up with how HP is executing its plans to cut jobs that it is taking HP to court, reports Paul Kunert at The Channel Register.The group is also ending an agreement to work with HP which has been in place for more than 16 years.

Around the world, HP is cutting 29,000 workers from its payroll over the next two years. More than 8,000 of those cuts are targeted for Europe, according to European unions representing HP employees. HP employs more than 80,000 people in Europe, the unions say.

The organisation suing HP is its European Works Council. That body is not a union, though union-represented employees may be included. It’s more like an official committee that is supposed to give EU employees access to information and a voice in big issues facing a company. Multinationals with more than 1,000 employees in Europe are required to have a European Works Council.

HP’s Works Council contends that HP didn’t properly consult with it and has dragged its feet informing  employees in various country how they will be impacted by layoffs, its leader, Koen Dries, told the Channel Register.

For instance, HP workers in some European countries have been told about planned cuts, like France and the Netherlands, but those in other countries, like the U.K., haven’t, Dries contends.

The group is also terminating its agreement with HP and wants to create a new one that is covered by more recent regulations from 2009. Those say companies must negotiate with their work councils by law.

HP is facing pressure from other employee groups to work with the council, too. Last month, more than a dozen trade unions that represent HP employees banded together to create the HP European Alliance (HPEA)

“HP has acted in a high-handed manner over its plans to cut jobs,” said Marcus Courtney, head of one of the unions, in the press release announcing the HPEA. “HP management has not been transparent” in revealing its plans for each country and “has flagrantly disregarded its obligations to inform and consult under its European Works Council Agreement.”

An HP spokesperson told the Channel Register that it was “disappointed” that its works council terminated its agreement and that it “continues to maintain constructive dialogue” with the council. The spokesperson also said that “HP reaffirms its ongoing commitment to comprehensive communication with employees” and will continue to consult with organisations that represent employees “based on mutual trust and cooperation.”

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