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IBM Greenock, Manpower & Adecco – A Review after 1 1/2 years

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by Sanshiru

The Story
So in Conclusion..
About working for Manpower/Adecco/IBM
About Greenock and Scotland
Living costs

The Story

1 1/2 years ago I got an offer from Adecco, to move to Scotland and work for IBM as technical support.
Thrilled by the idea to go to the UK and work for IBM I agreed and left my former, well paid and everything but busy job behind. The offer seemed good since they were paying the flight, accommodation for 10 days and 400 pounds cash after arrival. Everything was as they said when I arrived in early June 2008, but that was just the surface.

Enthusiastic I started the training, sucking in all the knowledge like a dry sponge does with water.
I was told that I would have some sort of newbie protection at first for at least 6 months, until I am a full fledged agent, meaning that they wouldn’t pressure me when it comes to meeting targets. So I was relieved and enjoyed every moment, taking pride in being an IBMer.

1 month after I had started there was a centre-wide meeting announced, in which the highest managers of this plant announced that all technical support was going to be outsourced to Hungary, but they also promised that they wouldn’t stop the service here. Rather we were supposed to work together with them as one team. Of course the first question that came to my mind was: ‘Why would a company who is seeking to reduce costs, keep employees that cost more than other while doing the same job?’

Back then I didn’t bother getting up and asking cause I already knew they would only come up with some bloody lies to make it look like they are an all great and generous company. So I kept quiet and watched them fail since they had not planned things well enough. While people started to leave the company, strange things happened:

They started to rebuilt the floor which we were on, so there was constant loud noise making it even harder for you to work, aside from all the stress. On top of that they started painting the office walls and heaters (and in that building it’s not possible to open the windows!!). Everyone got at least severe head aches from the fumes and some even got rashes within 1 hour. When we went to the Adecco HR office we were told: ‘Stop acting! It’s just water-based paint!!’. For days it went on and even the team leader had enough of the constant head aches and went home earlier with half of the team, which rewarded her with more than just dirty looks from the HR ladies.

Ironically they didn’t train the Hungarians first, making sure they will be capable of taking over before they announced the outsourcing. Instead they did so after they told us the news. Most hilarious was that people from my team, normal agents, were doing the telephone interviews with the Hungarians and Germans who wanted to start working for IBM over there. Weekly there were more people leaving the department until we ended up with about 6 people plus the team leaders, doing the job of the 40 which we had been before, since the Hungarians weren’t able to take over yet.

Soon after the stress started becoming more due to the lack of workers and due to the constant grey sky and lots of rain in Greenock, my body started acting up till I ended up with Burnout-Syndrome. Originally I was signed off work for 4 weeks, but since those 75 pounds statutory sick pay aren’t enough to make a living, I had an agreement with Adecco to work part time. First it was horrible having to work while you feel like just running away when you already enter the building, but I managed very slowly though. What helped me was the fact that the sun was shining a little more and thanks to the part time work I was able to see not just from inside the office.

Obviously I wouldn’t have been able to continue the work in that department on a full-time basis, so I applied for a position in the other building of the IBM plant which is managed by Manpower. After all the interviews and tests were successful I started the new year with a job training for the Xerox department. My health wasn’t fully restored at that time, but again I managed, at first at least.

That department just recently had been taken back to Greenock, since the people in Sofia weren’t able to comply to the targets and costumers were complaining. It was planned that the department stays in Greenock for 3 months and if successful, stays here. The work first was great, but then the targets became harder and harder to achieve, since you weren’t in control whether or not you get a call for a machine where you can actually deliver tech support, or whether it’s one of the huge production machines where you only can send out a technician on-site.

Since my health hadn’t been 100% to begin with, it suffered anew with even more severe symptoms, causing me to be off work more and more frequent. The HR lady seemed nice at first, but then showed her true face when she yelled at me on the phone telling me that she will fire me if I don’t return to work and stay off one more day (and that after I told her I had heart problems). So things became even worse for me and I had to work while being sick, which even my team leader acknowledged, just no the HR lady.

So the days and weeks passed and the end of the line was that my health was getting worse and worse and the people in Sofia cheated to get better results than we had, so they closed the department. It was almost hilarious how they told us. On a Friday they came up to us and told us that we were going to have interviews for other positions within the centre, since from Monday on we wouldn’t be working for Xerox any more.

At then end of April I ended up at the German Switchboard, thinking that this is a stable position at least, considering that IBM will always need this. It turned out to be wrong though. Just recently, about 4 weeks ago right after I returned from being sick, I was told that the department was going to be outsourced to Cairo. And we were going to work for a new department, in 12 hour day and night shifts, which I wrote about in one of my other blog entries.

So in conclusion:

I myself am (still) employee of IBM/Manpower and also were with IBM/Adecco before that for a whole fo 1 1/2 years now, I must say it is not the best company combination and I’ve seen better companies before who care more for the employees and also reward them better. Nevertheless they are a company and like all companies they want to get richer and richer and only do what the law tells them to. Not more and not less.
In aspects of comparing Adecco with Manpower I must say the HR personal (at least 3 of them) are nicer and try to help as much as they can, but then again Adecco pays the same amount of money for less hours of work. So both are somewhat equal.

The business philosophy of Manpower, Adecco and also IBM I wouldn’t consider ethical correct, but unfortunately it’s legalized by law. E.g. they are trying to make us work 12h day and night shifts now, but reduce our holidays from 20+8 to 19.5 (yes point five). Explaining it with their hourly calculation of the holidays, instead of daily like it would be ethically and morally correct in my eyes and also all the eyes of the other employees. Another unethical procedure of both IBM and it’s Agencies is to hire people, make them leave everything behind and come to a foreign country, not mentioning that they are outsourcing the department they hire the people for and 2 -4 weeks later you are told that the department is going to Cairo or elsewhere. Even if you specifically ask them like I did at the interviews, they deny that they are thinking about outsourcing anytime soon.

I only agreed to work for IBM and move to Scotland because I thought of it as a stable job for 3-5 years, according to what I’ve been told at the interview and even mentioned that to them. 4 weeks later they announced my department was going to outsourced which resulted in people resigning so in the end I was with only 5 other people, doing the work of originally 40, since the people in Hungary weren’t ready to take over yet.

Both agencies aren’t helpful when it comes to finding new positions outside IBM. You are left on your own if you wish to find something elsewhere or are referred to their headquarters in Glasgow.
When it comes to sickness Manpower is handling it a little bit less strict as Adecco, but if you have something serious like Burnout-Syndrome then Adecco is more likely willing to find a compromise, from what I experienced.

All in all there are better companies to work for and if I were to be put back in time and had to decide whether or not to take this job again, I would not do so.

A Rainbow in always
rainy Greenock
Greenock, UK

If anyone considers to come here, I advise to keep in mind the following:

About working in for Manpower/Adecco/IBM:
– You only have 20 holidays plus 8 bank holidays.
– You have 10 paid sick days, after that you only get SSP which is not paid if you are sick for less than 3 days, and if you are sick for more than 3 days, those first 3 days are not paid at all.
– In average you get 75 pounds SSP.
– You can expect being shifted around every 3-6 months.
– Most HR people are very strict.
– Expect changes of Terms & Conditions while being employed.
– Additional work is not honoured when seen long term. They thank you, but if something goes wrong on your end at any certain time, your additional afford won’t be recalled.
– There barely are chances to have a career. Most people here are call centre agent for 3-5 years without ever having seen a higher position or even just the possibility of getting one.

About Greenock and Scotland:
– 90% rain or overcast sky with lots of heavy storms.
– Accommodation is very expensive compared to your income. The most you will be able to afford is a room in a shared apartment if you don’t wish to spend most of your income on an own apartment.
– In addition to rent you have to pay council tax, about 80 pounds (depending on the location).
– Most housings don’t have landlines installed. Installing a BT one costs 150 pounds.
– Most phone/internet/TV companies require that you have lived at one address within the UK for at least 2-3 years and that you pass a credit check, if you want to order service from them via long term contracts (12-18 months).
– They do not put salt or granules on the pedestrian walks in winter if there is ice or snow, so it’s very dangerous specially since there are lots of hills (the Highlands are close by, you know ;) )

Living costs:
– shared room 200 -360 pounds
– gas/electricity 50-150 pound every 3 months (depending on season)
– 2 zone zonecard to get to IBM and back 56 pounds (additional day-return ticket to Glasgow 5.60 pounds)
– internet if shared 4-14 pounds, without sharing about 30-50 pounds or 15 pounds for 3gb UMTS O2 dongle
– groceries and other supplies 100-300 pounds depending on your own needs and wants
– domino’s pizza 10-20 pounds
– 2 litre bottle of water 19pence
– 1 bagel 40pence

If you have any further questions feel free to ask.


© 2010, Sanshiru. http://san.icopyright.com


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