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IBM represents the same challenge to organised labour that the stubborn virgin represents to Cazanova – and now that the sturdy virgin has fallen on hard times, the international labour organisations that met in London this week are hopeful that her resistance will be so lowered that they can have their way with her. The three international federations agreed to a number of measures which they hope will bring more success than hitherto to their wooing of IBM employees – and the measures represent little less than an agreement to lay siege to the company. They were mandated to act as a clearing house for information on IBM; to publish a twice-yearly newspaper on the company to be distributed to IBM employees; to identify key target groups in IBM that are ripe for organisation; to provide IBM employees with a wider picture of the company’s operations; to collect, where possible, details of IBM’s pay and conditions; and to publicise the company’s continuing involvement in South Africa. None of this is likely to have any effect at all on the vast majority of IBM employees, but the concerted attack will cast a further cloud over the company and the way it is perceived in the outside world – and is something the management could certainly do without right now.

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