Danish IT workers union PROSA wants to call IBM chairman and chief executive Sam Palmisano as a witness in an important court case.
The case, being held in Denmark, concerns the company's use of contracts that prevent customers and partners from recruiting IBM employees.
PROSA wants Palmisano to testify about a secret nonsolicitation agreement between IBM and Danish container shipping company AP Moller-Maersk.
The court has yet to rule whether Palmisano must testify. If it allows PROSA to call him as witness, he must travel to Denmark or be video-interviewed before 2009, when the result of the trial is expected.
"IBM doesn't have any comment at this point," IBM spokesman Carsten Grønning said on Wednesday.
PROSA has asked for 199,000 Danish kroner (£21,000) in damages on behalf of one of its members, Claus Bobjerg Juul, who was prevented from applying for jobs with AP Moller-Maersk.
The companies entered into a secret nonsolicitation agreement after IBM acquired AP Moller-Maersk's IT subsidiary Maersk Data for around 3.5 billion kroner in 2004.
Palmisano would be an unusual sight in a Danish courtroom. Top executives "seldom" have to testify in Danish employment disputes, said Ole Hasselbalch, a professor and expert in employment law at Aarhus School of Business.
Hasselbalch wouldn't comment on the reasons for PROSA's action, but said that IBM can object to the request if it thinks PROSA's arguments are invalid.
PROSA said it wants Palmisano to testify because he was in Denmark when the agreement with AP Moller-Maersk was negotiated, and that such a large deal must have been cleared with the chief executive.
On top of that, PROSA believes that IBM officials in the US ordered that Juul be fired after he tried to enter an IBM shareholders' meeting to question Palmisano about the nonsolicitation agreement.
Whether Palmisano will have to testify will become clearer in the next few days. PROSA expects that the case will be decided before the end of the year.
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