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Andrew Colley and Mitchell Bingemann
April 14, 2009
Article from: The Australian

IN a move that would make even the most miserly budget airline operator wince, IBM has cut tea and coffee from the office budget worldwide to cut costs.

IBM Australia sent an email to staff last week telling them it would stop subsidising employees’ home internet connections from May. But workers were gobsmacked to learn that having a cuppa on the company’s tab had also become an unaffordable luxury.

Instead, they were told, they would have to buy drinks from vending machines to be installed at “selected” company sites.

Employees who put in long hours of unpaid overtime to help push the tech giant’s profits up 12 per cent to $US4.4billion during its final quarter of last year have received the news as a slap in the face.

“You would have thought that basic amenities like tea and coffee were not a lot to ask for after working long hours and neglecting private life; obviously, we were wrong,” one employee said.

“They’d put a coin slot in the toilet door if they could.”

IBM Australia declined to reveal how much money it expected to save from the new cost-cutting initiatives.

Morale among staff is already under pressure. Since December, IBM has flagged its intention to cut 10,000 jobs from its global workforce, including 2500 from its Asia-Pacific operations.

Other global IT companies have announced plans to undertake sweeping cost-cutting initiatives, but none have been at the level of IBM’s coffee cuts.

Human resources specialist Drake International’s Matt Tukaki described IBM’s decision to make employees pay for tea and coffee as ludicrous.

“What you really want to do is make sure that you’re keeping your staff happy,” he said.

“There’s already enough nervousness out there at the moment with people in fear of losing their jobs. What good is it taking away people’s tea and coffee? I see no point.”

Another workplace relations consultant who asked not to be named said the decision was likely to have a dehumanising effect on employees.

http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/story/0,25197,25330942-5013404,00.html

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