One month after a virtual protest staged in Second Life with almost 2’000 avatars demonstrating on IBM islands, a new contract with IBM Italy has been signed.
The new agreement, which still needs to be approved by the IBM Italy workforce, reinstates the performance bonus that was cut unilaterally by IBM Italy management.
The agreement signed by IBM Italy and the trade union Rappresentanze Sindacali Unitarie (R.S.U.) not only includes the performance bonuses from 2007 up until 2010 but also payments by IBM into a national health insurance fund and also states that negotiations will continue with respect to IBM industrial and business strategies in Italy and the improvement of internal communication policies.
The situation abruptly improved and negotiation resumed after the former country manager left IBM in the mid of October, who had signed responsible for the pay cuts in the first place. His departure cleared the air and facilitated constructive negotiations between social partners as this could be expected from a professional management of a high-tech company.
The virtual demonstration organized on 27 September for a whole day has certainly had an impact on the positive development. Almost 2’000 virtual protestors from 30 countries populating IBM premises in Second Life solicited an unprecedented media echo from all over the world, including TV and radio stations, daily news papers, computer and business magazines. The virtual protest had been supported by global unions such as the International and European Metalworkers Federations (IMF and EMF) and UNI Global Union.
The threat of strike action in the “real world” by the Italian unions after the virtual protest has certainly also helped to break the deadlock. Yet, the impact of this historical action in Second Life must not be underestimated.