HP Layoffs Not Taken in Stride by U.K. Union

Despite job cuts being planned earlier in the year by Hewlett-Packard in the United Kingdom, labor representatives express deep resentment of worker elimination and jobs moving to other locations in the world while the company continues to grow revenue and profit.

Hewlett-Packard employees in the United Kingdom are railing from recent layoffs that eliminated 1,300 employees. The latest workforce reduction announcement comes on top of 900 HP worker job cuts in the region. The union representing U.K.-based workers, Unite, had disparaging remarks for the recent spat of downsizing in the region.

"Despite significant profits, HP appears hell-bent on continuing to butcher its highly skilled U.K. workforce," said Unite official Peter Skyte in an Oct. 11 statement. "It is increasingly difficult for HP employees in the U.K. to plan for their futures when the threat of redundancy is continually hanging over their heads. Morale is at an all-time low."

HP posted a revenue increase of 11.4 percent and an operating profit increase of 14 percent at $3.4 billion in its last earnings report for the third quarter.

"The broad-based strength of HP's Q3 performance further demonstrates the power of our strategy and the discipline of our execution," said Cathie Lesjak, HP CFO and interim CEO in an Aug. 19 statement. "We raised our full-year outlook and are continuing to build momentum in driving out costs, investing for profitable growth and capitalizing on HP's competitive advantages in the marketplace."

The union--which represents more than 1.5 million workers in Britain and Ireland--is complaining these job cuts are in direct opposition of the U.K. government's contention that high technology jobs will fuel the job growth in the near future. The union claims there have been nearly 9,000 job cuts from HP in the U.K. in the last two years.

"On the evidence of these cuts, the U.K. government's belief that the high tech private sector will be the motor for growth and new jobs is largely a mirage," said Skyte. "Lax employment protection in the U.K. compared to other European countries means that the U.K. is bearing the brunt of cuts, as it's quicker and cheaper to sack U.K. people and export their jobs abroad."

The union is also citing that many jobs for HP have moved to Asia and other developing countries and that the work stress has increased dramatically for workers inheriting HP work from the U.K.

"Our sister union in India, Unites, is reporting that IT employees in India are complaining about the stress caused by tremendous pressure to live up to unreasonable targets and deadlines," said Skyte.

In response to Unite's complaints, HP told Network World the job cuts were part of a planned workforce reduction effort announced in June to help streamline and boost the company's enterprise business.