IBM employees have staged a rally at the computer giant's annual general meeting to protest against the offshore outsourcing of US-based jobs.
Chanting "Offshore the CEO," staff and former employees demonstrated against IBM's increased focus on outsourcing and cost cutting.
The demonstration was organised by [email protected] and the Communications Workers of America unions, which also submitted proposals on corporate governance to be discussed at the company meeting.
"IBM has admitted that thousands of jobs are being sent offshore to India, China, Brazil and other countries, with plans to increase this outsourcing," said Lee Conrad, national coordinator for [email protected], in a statement.
"This raises serious concerns about the long-term job prospects for workers in the US, and also about the need to ensure that customers have the quality service they expect to receive from IBM."
The Alliance asked for a review of the company's executive pay policies to see whether they create an undue incentive to make "short-sighted decisions" such as an over-reliance on offshore employees.
But addressing shareholders, IBM chairman and chief executive Sam Palmisano said globalisation was an important issue, and promised $25m to help those affected to retrain and find jobs with the firm's partners.
"I think most people recognise that we can't simply lock into place current jobs, skills, businesses - or, for that matter, nations," he told shareholders.
"On the other hand, the impact of these economic shifts on individuals is a very real issue. At IBM, we believe we have to prepare our people to do the jobs that will be needed in the future."
Palmisano added that the firm spent $750m per annum on staff training, with $200m of that fund specifically aimed at "hot" new areas of expertise, such as high-value services, business integration, open standards and pervasive and wireless technologies.
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