IBM began layoffs this week amid a $1 billion worldwide restructuring.
In April, on the heels of a disappointing Q1 performance, IBM (IBM) vowed heads would roll, first of the executive type and then from the rank and file in a worldwide restructuring the cost of which the vendor pegged at $1 billion.
As promised, IBM set the guillotine loose on Wednesday, issuing known pink slips to some 1,650 workers in multiple geographic locales and departments, with the overall layoffs expected to run to as high as 8,000 jobs worldwide, according to reports.
According to a barrage of posts on Alliance@IBM, an IBM employee forum affiliated with the Communications Workers of America union, initial counts showed layoffs struck at least 220 people in software marketing, 165 in semiconductor research and development, about 100 in each of Systems and Technology Group Storage systems development, Global Business Services and Application Management Services, and the Software Group’s Information Management and Industry Solutions. In sum, as of Thursday afternoon about 1,650 job cuts had been reported.
So far, what’s been reported for cuts in Europe, which was expected to take the brunt of the layoffs, are about 400 jobs in Italy, 850 in Germany and some 430 in France, with many more expected to come.
Information on the cuts flowed to the Alliance@IBM site so fast and in such volume—there were, in fact, 229,000 hits Wednesday and another 200,000 on Thursday—that it slowed the server to a crawl.
IBM, while acknowledging the layoffs, declined to provide any details. “Change is constant in the technology industry and transformation is an essential feature of our business model,” said Douglas Shelton, an IBM spokesperson. “Consequently, some level of workforce remix is a constant requirement for our business.”
Don’t you just love how IBM uses that word—remix? It’s enough to be furloughed out of a job but quite another matter to be “remixed” out of employment. What’s wrong with IBM that it simply can’t call a layoff a layoff? At least be honest about it.
The company’s language with employees does make you wonder what’s going on there. Post its Q1 disappointment, IBM chief executive Ginni Rometty in an all-hands-on-deck meeting made a point to scold employees, in part, for not communicating well enough with accounts to seal the deal. This, from the same people who don’t have the fortitude to call a layoff a layoff. Go figure.
The vendor’s attitude certainly hasn’t ingratiated itself with some employees. One poster at the Alliance@IBM site gave the company an earful:
"IBM has reached rock bottom in its treatment of its employees - no work/life balance, expected to work on vacation, ZERO home office expense reimbursement, buy your own work supplies, do the job of 3 people and then some, continuously subjected to working on out of date green screen applications that do not communicate with each other yet we try and convince customers to transform the way they do business, no worthwhile training - take a new role and told to learn from peers, rent a car rather than driving your own personal car since its cheaper than reimbursing mileage - well, what if the nearest rental car company is 10 miles away, ruin year-end holiday and New Years with family by demanding people to work - change the fiscal calendar year end to Jan 31st so people can enjoy 12/24 through 1/1 -that would make so many people happy. I could go on and on. Last note, Ginni has cashed in over $50 million in stock options since becoming new CEO. Looking for new home."
Tom Midgley, Alliance@IBM president and an IBM employee, in a report in the Poughkeepsie Journal, said the organization doesn’t know for sure how large is the layoff to this point.
“It’s big and it’s agonizing for employees to go through this,” he said. “Even the people that are still here, their morale is terrible. It’s a dark day, really.”