As a labour strike at an IBM factory in Shenzhen continued for the ninth day, the computer giant Lenovo broke its silence on Tuesday with a statement that vowed to absorb all of the factory's ex-IBM employees.
Lenovo, which purchased IBM's low-end server business in January for $2.3 billion, also promised the employees they would get nearly the same salaries and benefit packages they had before the acquisition.
"We will take in all employees from IBM's x86 server unit and be fair in our arrangements. We guarantee that their pay and benefits will not be lower than before," the Lenovo statement said.
The company vowed to give equal job opportunities to the Shenzhen factory employees after the transaction. It will take in roughly 7,500 former IBM employees in more than 60 countries, including more than 1,000 workers at the Shenzhen factory who are employed in the departments of manufacturing, research, sales and marketing, according to the statement.
Lenovo, the world's biggest producer of personal computers, said that the deal is still waiting for approval and that the strike is an IBM internal matter. The deal is expected to close in the fourth quarter of this year.
Roughly one-third of the Shenzhen workers on strike have signed agreements to become a Lenovo employee or quit by Tuesday after IBM abruptly fired a group of workers on Monday for shutting down production, factory workers said.
But the strength of the strike is fading quickly, with last week's more than 1,000 strikers dwindling this week to about 100, said worker Wen Yong, who said he had just been fired.
The factory terminated the contracts of 20 workers active in the Monday strike, Wen said. The fired employees were said to have violated company policies by causing a shutdown in production.
"They were fired immediately and got no compensation. It's a sort of revenge," said Wen, who had been working at the factory for 10 years.