back to article IBM faces Second Life strike

Ever wanted to go on strike, be part of that feeling of solidarity on the picket line, but felt too cowardly to take the risk? September should see just the opportunity for you. That is when Rappresentanza Sindacale Unitaria IBM Vimercate (RSU), the official trade union representing IBM's 9,000 workers in Italy, is planning a …


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  1. Kyle

    Yeah, because IBM has nothing better to do than keep tabs on Second Life

    Christ, it's hard to know what's worse - the notion that a significant number of people think that logging onto what amounts to a computer game can equate to physically taking part in a real-life protest, or that apparently Second Life is garnering enough press attention that it might actually work in terms of securing the relevant publicity...

    I mean, if this is going to be the next technological paradigm shift - that logging onto a server somewhere which happens to run a virtual environment can be considered equivalent or in some cases even *better* than our actual physical presence - then it's probably time to side with the Luddites.

    Christ. This reminds me of an issue of Global Frequency ( where some start-up company turns out to be run by a cultist and they announce that they'll kill a load of hostages unless government forces acknowledged the pandimensional sex gods or some such nonsense, and it has about as much chance of happening...

  2. Tim Croydon


    So these workers are showing their disdain by not turning up to work in a virtual world where they don't do work anyway? Am I missing something?!

    Perhaps IBM management could reduce the effectiveness of the strike by restricting access to Second Life from company computers during working hours, so people have to 'picket' in their own time?

  3. Iain Porter

    Second Life?

    Took me a while to realise you were talking about Sadville. Who calls it Second Life?

  4. Ralph B

    The Most Important Question

    Why do Second Life use the old Symbian logo?

  5. Dave

    Will it / Won't it work?

    Why it will work:

    All those Journo's who think that SL is a dynamic vibrant alternate-reality cyberspace virtual-world <insert any more buzzwords here>, will point to this as the Shape-Of-Things-To-Come, and ensure it gets plenty of coverage. This maybe enough to force IBM to rethink.

    Why it won't work:

    Does anyone know anyone who actually uses the damn thing? How will the Strikers participate? Will they install SL on their work PCs and log in and protest? I can see IBM Italia having a network outage conveniently happening around the time of the strike. Will they log on from home? This sounds like a traditional strike IMHO. How many of them actually use SL?

    I'd still like to show my support for them. Fellow IT workers complaining about pay and conditions. 10/10 for the Novelty value.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Back to the 20's

    Gonna strike huh. You got the Man's approval for that? Nope, I didn't think so. Well we got our orders so Tony and his friends are going to bash your kneecaps in with these here Louisville Sluggers. Don't take it personal, it's just that Tony and us we're doing our jobs see? Nothing bad happens when you do your job, it's good for everybody. Striking see, that's no good cause your not working, your causing us pain. So we're going to pay you back.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    As Marx might have said..

    "Flying penises of the world rise up!"

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Seems reasonable...

    If IBM genuinely view Sadville as a PR tool, then subverting that tool seems a fairly reasonable tactic. The place doesn't need to have any intrinsic value, it just needs to have *perceived* value to the people they are in conflict with.

  9. Graham


    isnt the idea of striking supposed to be stopping the business working ,by making as much disruption as possible, ie stopping people getting into the site.. by stopping deliverys getting in, etc etc.. all they are going to do is take a day off work to create a SadLife Accout & login to SadLife and sit at there PC's and bitch about it...

    they get 5/5 points for inventiveness but 1/100000 for actual disruption, as the only effect it will have is that XXX people wont turn up for work meaning they are docked pay or holiday, and the people who cant afford to loose the money will go in, end up doing 5 peoples jobs along with there own and the company will just laugh.. its a good publicity stunt but thats it...

  10. Alan Donaly


    If it works great but I would have actually had a strike, work slowdown, sick out, planned too just to make sure they understood it was a real action not virtual.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Totally misunderstood the headline....

    Sure, unions, cool, whatever.

    But, the one thing that I must admit has always fascinated me about SL was the claim you could build anything, using the in-game editing tools. Build *anything,* they've said.

    I had a brief, though hysterical, thought of some IBM boffins using the SL in-game tools to make an extremely large, Doc Stranglove-esque, virtual H-bomb. Then, using it to 'strike' a target within the game.

    Sadville residents, would this work? I mean, if it would, I'd sign up in ten frickin' minutes if I could do it.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    1) Second life 'land owners' have the ability to ban avatars from their area.

    2) There are no laws granting freedom of assembly in second life.

    So, This strike will not happen anywhere near IBM unless IBM choses to allow it.

  13. g e

    Conclusive evidence

    Surely this is absolute proof of why these people DONT deserve a payrise?


  14. amanfromMars Silver badge

    Dodge City, OK Quarrel

    "If IBM genuinely view Sadville as a PR tool, then subverting that tool seems a fairly reasonable tactic."....... and then you could give it an Al Qaeda makeover/whitewash. Some sad souls are bound to try or are being paid very handsomely to do so. I wonder if they wear a mask on pay days? Nipping it in the bud before it starts [very Minority Report] always allows you to watch for it.

    Al Qaeda is like a Cancer/Virus in a Host, Benign in some places, Malignant in others but ultimately Terminal to the Host when all help is rejected.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    ... the drop that overflowed the glass ...

    That must be the Italian idiom for "the straw that broke the camel's back".

    See, who says you never learn anything edu-ma-cational at el Reg?

  16. Joe

    Unions are so silly anymore...

    Heh heh, if it sucks so bad at IBM then go somewhere else! Wouldn't all the smart ones leave if that were the case?

    Oop, can't get a job elsewhere? Aren't productive enough to get paid more...anywhere? LOL I think I now understand why they want collective bargaining. Don't pay me based upon my individual merit, pay me as part of a large block of workers, so I can get paid as much as more productive workers! Yay!

    I personally plan to attend any strike they might have so that I might be able to point and laugh.

  17. War Monger

    A characteristically Italian approach...

    stylish, but ultimately disfunctional.

    Commence flaming now.

  18. LaeMi Qian

    spread-out protest

    most simulator regions in SL are capped to 40 avatars per 256x256m region. Congregating at corners of 4 sims will allow 160 AVs but it is going to be a rather dispersed protest at any rate.

    And if IBM wanted to be really mean, they could lower the sim pop cap to 5 or something on the regions they own.

    Of course it only takes one noob with a 'crazy hair' attachment (hair that uses one flexi-shape for almost every strand) and a few badly scripted 'always-online' and 'radar' devices to bring a simulator near to a grinding halt!

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    And they needn't even take time off work ...

    If they are going to do it with some style they could at least use unattended macroing.

    I notice IBM Developer Works doesn't have an article on Xautomation.

    Perhaps, they could kill two birds with one stone.

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Wait - Sadville is actually bothered with by people ?

    Smeg - I signed up and swiftly signed back off again;

    1) The sheer number of noob-esq morons wandering around.

    2) The pointlessness of it. It's not even a game. It's the world, on a server, and a poor representation of one at that. Maybe these people haven't considered leaving their basement gaming pads and looking around the real world.

    3) Visually it's about as appealing as the Lawnmower Man movies. Way too naff and '80s for me I'm afraid.

    Personally I thought it was the worst of the online communities.

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Par for the Italian course

    I spent a couple of years living in Italy, watching their completely ineffectual strike actions.

    Regardless of the rightness of their cause, Italian workers always have the same response. They set up a picket line in a location guaranteed to attract attention (but not likely to cause disruption to the employer), strike with all their hearts, for one day, and...

    ...the next day they go back to work.

    It's less an actual strike than a one-day bitch session. And this is true regardless of whether the strike targets industry or government. The papers report it, and everyone's happy.

    So the Second Life approach is a fine idea -- it's no more disruptive or interesting than usual, and still makes it into the papers.

    Some day, the Italians will invent the "multi-day, we will actually cause you pain" strike. Then again, maybe that was tried and resulted in too many broken kneecaps.

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    PLEASE don't misunderstand our goal/message:

    we are IBM workers, and our demonstration is tremendly serious.

    We don't want to create problems to our SL developers, it's only a BIG pacific strike to show that there are problems inside our company and we want to help to solve them.

    Nothing more, we are fighting for our this a crime or a bad action ?

    in the previous comments I read about "network outage" or "Al-Qaida"...but..are you crazy ?

    Do you know something about our difficult unionist activity in Italy or Europe ? we are building important rights for all our employees, we are not playing as child with strikes just to have fun.

    In the last years our union obtained many collective agreements to defend pensions, healthcare, factory dismissals. We are now trying to get something more to protect our job.

    I think you're intelligent and you can understand the reason for this serious demonstration, and sustain (if you want, it's very important for us) the requests of the national collective bargaining in IBM.

    This is solidarity, very common not only in Europe between workers and countries.


    We are trying to build a future for the employees, for the subsidiarian company, with respect of their professionality. This is a battle we want to win.

    bye and thanks to all your understanding.

    for more information, please contact

    or visit:

  23. Lawrence

    Why it has worked

    Given that there are about 36 strikes a day in Italy media attention of any sort is a win.

    Also, wouldn't it be great if London tube workers adopted the same strategy?

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