Dozens of civil service workers workers are being given a choice: go work for IBM for roughly the same pay but no union support, or stay with the province and do something a little different.

The global IT giant has been given an untendered ten-year contract to support the Nova Scotia government’s payroll, finance and procurement computer software platform known as SAP.

The bigger news for the region is the creation by next spring of IBM’s first Global Delivery Centre in Canada, which could hire 500 people in the coming years to qualify for a beefy payroll tax rebate.

According to the province, the $130-million payroll of 500 employees would generate $18.7 million in provincial income tax. In return for creating and retaining these jobs, would earn up to $12.2 million of payroll rebates over eight years.

The province says it will pay IBM $8.4 million in year one to do the work these people have been doing for $8.4 million.

Seventy-five unionized workers who support the SAP system are being offered what IBM calls “comparable” jobs, most with two-year contracts.

Premier Darrell Dexter says this is absolutely not contracting-out.

“Contracting-out is a philosophy that tries to cut government costs by trying to trying to run down benefits and wages of workers,” said Dexter. “This is the furthest thing from that.”

Instead, he says, it’s an opportunity for these workers to start a private-sector career with room for advancement in a huge company. If they don’t want that, they can stay in the civil service.

IBM signed an agreement with NSCC and five universities to help develop a workforce with skills and training for the analytics industry. IBM says it will make student recruitment a major focus, and will invest in research at the institutions.
“By working together, Nova Scotia’s post-secondary institutions and IBM Canada will create a hub of learning and research that will provide our students, and companies, with a competitive advantage in an emerging and fast-growing area within the IT sector,” said Don Bureaux, NSCC president.