Arm staff tell Cambridge MP UK tech ‘crown jewel’ sale must be stopped ahead of parliamentary debate
- Monday 21 September 2020
Arm staff have warned Cambridge MP Daniel Zeichner of the consequences of a planned £31 billion sale of the UK software and semiconductor giant to rival firm NVIDIA ahead of a parliamentary adjournment debate this evening (Monday 21 September).
In a meeting organised by Unite, Mr Zeichner met with staff from the company, which employs 3,000 people, to listen to their concerns over the controversial deal between Arm’s Japanese parent company, Softbank, and US-based NVIDIA.
During the meeting, workers at the UK’s largest tech company said they had learned about it through the press, leading to worries that Arm’s management are trying to bypass staff consultation and secure a sale that would be damaging to the business and its workforce.
Staff highlighted detrimental impacts, including a risk to around 600 UK ancillary roles not covered in NVIDIA’s promises to retain jobs, as well as to Arm’s graphics division, which employs 500 people, if the company merges Arm’s operations into its own.
A takeover by a US company could also endanger ties with Arm’s numerous Chinese customers due to trading constraints imposed by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States and worsening relations between the American and Chinese administrations.
Referencing government ambitions to see the creation of UK firm comparable to Apple, Unite called for greater investment and support of domestic tech innovation and manufacturing, including public procurement policies that benefit homegrown enterprises and jobs.
Unite regional officer Matt Whaley said: “It is unacceptable that Arm’s workforce first heard about the proposed sale to NVIDIA through the press. Unfortunately, the company’s leadership has form in presenting large scale changes as faits accomplis. Unite is clear that Arm’s bosses will not get away with simply ignoring staff and forcing through changes that could do irreparable harm to the firm and its workforce.
“Our members fear that a takeover will intensify Arm’s already excessive working culture as NVIDIA’s management seeks rapid returns on its investment. They are also concerned about the direct threat to jobs, including 600 ancillary roles which would be at risk if the firm directly merges with Arm. As NVIDIA primarily manufactures graphics processors, an operational merger could also negatively affect Arm’s graphics division, which employs 500 people.
“Furthermore, Arm employees are worried about the geo-political impact of merging with a US company. Rulings from the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, along with the increase in tensions between the American and Chinese administrations, could prevent business being done with Arm’s many Chinese clients.”
Unite national officer for information technology Louisa Bull said: “The concerns of Arm’s employees, along with the alarms bells being sounded from politicians and industry, should be reason enough for the government to strike this deal down in the national interest.
“Ambitions to see the rise of a UK equivalent to Apple are all well and good. The fact is that without a cohesive industrial strategy from the government, and one that supports and invests in innovation and manufacturing across the UK tech sector, we will be overtaken by other nations.
“Such an industrial strategy must include safeguarding Arm, which is the UK tech sector’s crown jewel, and ensuring that the UK’s annual £292 billion public procurement budget is geared towards supporting UK manufacturing and the jobs that come with it.”
Notes to editors:
Read more about Unite’s campaign for the future of UK manufacturing.
For media enquires ONLY contact Unite communications officer Ryan Fletcher on 07849 090215.
Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest union with members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.