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HP workers picket Discover event over job cuts

We get on well with our Spanish workers, claims US technology giant
Wed Dec 11 2013, 10:17

BARCELONA: ENTERPRISE VENDOR HP's annual European Discover event is being held in Barcelona this year, and like previous Discover events it is has come with some drama.

While in 2011 the firm was dealing with the aftermath of Leo Apotheker's short-lived reign and in 2012 it had to minimise the fallout from the Autonomy accounting scandal, in 2013 it is facing protesting employees who are angry at looming job layoffs.

Journalists were bussed in around the back of the event, which also had the effect of hiding the protesters from view, but social media channels showed the Spanish workers camped outside the main entrance to the event venue.

HP insisted that the route in for journalists was about providing quicker access to the event, rather than any attempt to hide the protestors from view. After a 20-minute wander to find the site where the protestors were gathered, these claims appeared to have some merit. What was disappointing, though, was the discovery that by 3.30pm when we had a break in our schedule all the protesters had gone.

A noisy protest outside its annual event in Europe is not what HP would have wanted, but the firm issued a statement acknowledging the protests and stressed that many jobs were not being cut, but changed or reallocated.

"HP has a long track record of good social dialogue with its employees and social partners through its European Works Council. HP's workforce management plans in EMEA are part of [the] global multi-year productivity initiative that was announced on 23 May 2012," the firm explained.

"The restructuring plan is designed to deliver a more agile and responsive business model in the region, streamlining processes, advancing innovation and creating efficiencies for the benefit of customers, shareholders and employees. HP has a proud history of investing in Spain and continues to be committed to the success of the business here."

The protests in Spain likely will be welcomed in solidarity by UK employees that are being affected by job cuts and changes in several locations, with a total of 1,124 jobs said to be going in the cuts according to trade union Unite, although HP has disputed the accuracy of its reports.

The protesters hope that their rally will raise the issue of job cuts, which is an especially painful topic in Spain and comes after HP posted $1.4bn in profits for the last quarter.

Still, it wouldn't be HP Discover without a bit of drama. µ


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