Business

IBM layoffs top 1,600 across several work groups, union reports

Posted March 1, 2010 8:42 p.m. EST
Updated March 2, 2010 4:38 p.m. EST

— Just as IBM workers feared, Big Blue began a new round of layoffs on Monday.

According to Alliance@IBM, the union seeking to represent IBM (NYSE: IBM) workers, verified through various sources that IBM cut its payroll in at least 13 groups by more than 1,600 positions.

“We have been able to verify almost 1,000 employees cut today,” Lee Conrad, the union’s national coordinator, told Local Tech Wire and WRAL.com before figures were updated later in the evening.

“It could go higher,” he added. “We haven't received all the RA packs yet.”

Moments later, Conrad said verification of another 200 cuts came in to the union.

By 8:30 p.m., 12 work groups reported 1,518, according to data provided to the union. Later, the addition of another work group pushed the day's total to 1,614.

RA refers to “resource action,” the IBM terms for layoffs. The packs is a reference to the packets of information given to each IBM worker notified that he has been in worker speak “RA’d” – or “selected” to participate in the job force reduction, as IBM describes it.

“The Alliance believes this is another example of IBM firing US workers and moving the work offshore,” Conrad added.

“Some of the employees have told us that they have been terminated while training offshore replacements. It is time our political leaders called IBM to task on this.”

Workers who were notified about being laid off can seek other positions within the company.

Local Tech Wire and WRAL.com reported on Saturday that the “resource action” – what IBM calls layoffs – would begin Monday.

An IBM spokesperson in RTP, where IBM employs some 10,000 workers, declined comment about the layoffs. IBM employs some 105,000 people in the U.S. but has cut its work force here by nearly 30,000 over the past four years.

Doug Shelton, director of corporate media relations who is based in New York, also declined to talk about the layoffs.

"As you know, we don't make public announcements or comment on details regarding this topic," Shelton said when contacted by LTW and WRAL.com. "What I can tell you is:

"We remix our skills and structure to meet the changing needs of our clients."

Where the layoffs will take place geographically is not clear.

The IBM CIO Application and Infrastructure group took the largest hit early on with 160 workers notified as of 5:30 p.m. EST.

The Software Group Information management unit plans to cut 99 people, according to an IBM “resource action” packet obtained by Local Tech Wire and WRAL.com.

Among those, the ages ranged from 26 to 68 and 69. Of the 99 workers affected, 19 are age 60 or over.

The breakdown by work group as reported by the union:

  • STG Technology Development: 24
  • STG Sales Support: 80
  • CIO Application and infrastructure: 160
  • Software Group WPLC: 50
  • Software Group Information management: 99
  • GBS Global Account: 98
  • GTS Security Systems: 41
  • ITD Transition, Quality and Service Management: 276
  • ITD Application Hosting and Database: 158
  • ITD Service Management Delivery: 66
  • ITD Storage Management: 178
  • ITD Distributed Server Management: 318
  • GTS North America East IMT Region Maintenance & Technical Support Resource Action: 66

Other workers in Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom are already being affected.

The Register in the U.K. has confirmed that negotiations are underway with workers there for voluntary buyouts with employee decisions expected by March 8.

Meanwhile, at least 200 workers in Australia have been affected, according to the Alliance site.

However, the resource action in Australia could actually affect 800 employees, according to the information technology news publication iTnews.

The Australian Services Union told iTnews that IBM is considering offshoring jobs to lower-cost centers in India and China. One source said managers were told about the cuts last Wednesday.

iTnews quoted IBM spokesperson Matt Mollett as saying that IBM “continuously transforms its business, rebalancing skills and capabilities in order to meet the changing needs of clients and our business as a whole.” He also said IBM would "continue to hire in 2010, and ... end the year with more employees than when the year began.”