IBM job cuts underway

IBM job cuts underway

Summary: We're getting numerous instant messages, pings and posts about IBM layoffs going down today. The exact number of layoffs--or even if the job cuts are material enough for Big Blue to disclose--is unknown.

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We're getting numerous instant messages, pings and posts about IBM layoffs going down today. The exact number of layoffs--or even if the job cuts are material enough for Big Blue to disclose--is unknown.

The official site for the IBM Employees Union--Alliance@IBM--has a bevy of individuals telling their pink slip tales.  The news comes just a day after IBM surprised Wall Street with a strong fourth quarter. Calls to IBM weren't immediately returned. The Alliance@IBM site blares:

IBM JOB CUTS ARE HAPPENING in SWG 1/21/2009!

Among the comments:

  • One of guys on my team in SWG just told me about the Resource Action. He told me there are hundreds on the list in the package.
  • By my counts about 800 software engineers are selected in the action. 330 Staff, 280 Advisory, 120 senior, and others.
  • Our Tivoli group lost four of six people. Severance offered is one week per every week of employment (from most recent start date). Final day is roughly four weeks from today. Some extension on insurance based, if I remember from the meeting, on time served.

Judging from the comments, it looks like IBM's software unit is taking the biggest hit. That move isn't entirely surprising given the number of software acquisitions Big Blue has completed over the years.

Meanwhile,  IBMers are also starting to blog about the layoffs. Aaron Leventhal writes:

This came as shock to me today, but I was just laid off from IBM. It was not a result of performance. They tell me it was because ARIA and working with external browser vendors is no longer a priority. There is still the chance to find work for another group in IBM, and I will probably be looking into that.

I have enjoyed working there, especially on Web 2.0 accessibility and Mozilla.

Also see: Can IBM sustain its momentum?

Topics: Software, CXO, IBM, IT Employment

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19 comments
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  • One week for every one week?

    I have to ask, "one week's pay for every one week's service"????

    I have 25 years with IBM, this nets out to something north of $2M. Where do I sign up for this?? :-)
    technomom_z
    • Z timer

      Dude you are hooked up. I only have five years and I'd take that deal. While it is obviously a mistake (more likely one week pay per year of service), and at a company the size of IBM many of the layoffs will also be a mistake. For potential employers out there, most of these IBMers are rock solid contributors and would be a good addition to your companies. While I don't know if I'm on some layoff list, and definitely don't have any insider knowledge or speak for the company, Alliance@IBM is a bunch of flakes trying to unionize IBM the same way they would an auto plant. Maybe its time someone invents a new type of union that instead of focusing on an adversarial relationship with the company, works as a positive force to make employees more efficient and profitable and ready for marketplace shifts. A union with a win-win philosophy could actually be the disruptive force inside a company that saves money and enriches employees by making HR edicts make since. They could be the force that recognizes early industry shifts in focus and saves employee jobs by getting the attention of management for new opportunities and pushes the retraining of workers that will be effected. Alliance@IBM isn't the solution to layoffs.
      jcschweitzer
    • One week for...

      I caught that immediately too. These ZDNet writers/bloggers/columnists are so stupid it
      boggles the mind. Especially this one and Foley, the worst of all. Just sheer incompetence! Don't they have any editors?
      Bearcat_z
  • IBM Damage Control

    I think that IBM not posting a public or even internal statement is bad public relations, both internally and externally. They're not doing any type of damage control here, but letting rumors abound.

    A surprise cut of software engineers, many of whom never saw it coming due to great reviews some even being promoted recently in addition to great yearly reviews, can do nothing but hurt morale.

    I think that once the economy rebounds some, due to lowered job security, morale and loyalty, IBM may suffer an exodus of good talent. If I were the competition, I would see this as an opportunity to recruit impressive talent, probably for fire sale salaries. As is the case in a bad economy, the traders that BUY will be the ones that make the most in the end, not the ones that SELL, as IBM is doing now.

    In the months to come, more talent will be available. I predict a high number of IBM resumes on jobster.com and monster.com in the months ahead.

    Just my opinion,
    A non-effected IBM employee who is still loyal, but questioning my position.
    ibmqpublic
    • IBM does not publicly admit layoffs

      Since about 2000, IBM has pursued an HR policy of flying below the radar as far as lay-offs and the government, SEC regulations, and the press are concerned.

      When IBM does lay-offs (and as far as I know they have been doing lay-offs continuously -- every month -- since 2000), they lay off small enough numbers over the months in the year so that no rolling total of laid off employees exceeds the amount required to have to report this to the government or the SEC or the press.

      I call them stealth lay-offs. I was in a position to know exactly what was going on in 2000/2001/2002. No longer in that position but know from grapevine (friends and people known to friends) that lay-offs have been going on continuously since 2002.

      I think the government and the SEC need to change there regulations so cunning companies like IBM cannot get around the rules and pretend they are not laying off. I think IBM is ethically challenged despite their BCG.
      somewhereinCA
      • What is BCG

        What is BCG as in previous post: I think IBM is ethically challenged despite their BCG.
        kathon@...
        • BCG = Business Conduct Guidelines

          A 30 odd page document spelling out what is an is not permissible both from a legal and ethical standpoint that EVERY IBM'er has to read, attend courses on and sign every year. Covers everything from IP, Data Privacy, to restrictions on lobbying and support for polictical parties.
          mapsonburt
        • BCG = Business Conduct Guidelines

          We have to read and sign this every year. Actually, it seems like more than once a year.
          somewhereinCA
      • IBM - the corporate Madoff?

        Yes, and in 2002 Gerstner left and a new regime was installed. These are indeed legal, just under SEC guidelines to be considered "immaterial" except for the just "under" 5% who are affected.

        What's worse is how these selections occur. It's created a CYA atmosphere where quality is no longer valued - and that's passed on to the customer.

        Kind've reminds me of "The Talented Mr Madoff" http://www.nytimes.com/glogin?URI=http://www.nytimes.com/2009/01/25/business/25bernie.html&OQ=_rQ3D1Q26em&OP=3e255259Q2FQ5EvX@Q5EQ51nQ5BrQ22nnCEQ5EE88Q25Q5E8VQ5EEdQ5E@xrS_XrrQ5EEd@XQ22_SX2Q60C!0

        as per many articles as http://online.wsj.com/article/SB123120010817055565.html or "Palmisano told Obama how to create US IT jobs"
        cwhye
        • Stupid comment

          "Yes, and in 2002 Gerstner left and a new regime was installed"

          what a stupid comment. Virtually 100% of those under Gerstner were long time IBMers... and when Lou left, Sam P tookover...as life time IBMer who was long expected to be the successor.
          slpmep
  • RE: IBM job cuts underway

    400K employees and they should never layoff employees? That's the kind of thinking that got them into trouble before Gerstner came to town. The market is shifting, some skills you can do better, cheaper, faster from different locations, so not making moves like this would be a recipe for their competitors to take away a huge chunk of their $103B revenues.
    mapsonburt
    • RE: IBM job cuts underway

      True, of course they can layoff employees. Good god, they are up to 400K now again?

      What's interesting is that other companies are up front about laying off employees.

      But IBM has not been for a long time now. Not even internally, let alone externally.

      Laying off is not unethical. Being sneaky about it is!
      somewhereinCA
  • RE: IBM job cuts underway

    Me again.

    The whole job performance thing at IBM is now so politicized, that even when they "initiate a separation for performance", that is no guarentee that the employee is actually a boob or a slacker.

    Have known outstanding people at IBM to get laid off for performance because their managers hated them personally or the managers were *unprintable* slur. Every year the situation gets worse and worse.

    Have known idiots (technical knowledge-wise) get way ahead at IBM because they were beautiful women or handsome young men or management pets or really good at office politics. We call them Teflon employees. The crap they do does not stick to them. They just keep getting promotion every year. Eventually they mess up big time (meaning they cost the company $$$$ or no one wants to work for them any more) and IBM notices and gets rid of them. But that kind of messing up can go on for a decade or more before they are offered an opportunity to leave IBM.

    IBM used to be a really good company and there are still a lot of really outstanding people here. I guess they are big enough that they can make HR mistakes and still survive.
    somewhereinCA
  • RE: IBM job cuts underway

    Welcome to the pool. HP lays off employees at will and claims it is because of acquisitions. Many employees are not even in the same divisions or operating groups as acquired companies. As far as business ethics, HP has a very nicely laid out plan to retain employees caught up in the layoffs, but then places hiring freezes on affected employees or requires EVP approval to redeploy them to an open position. Business ethics is a thing of the past.
    SWMCinci
  • RE: IBM job cuts underway

    But do you (at HP) have to read and sign a Business Conduct Guidelines like thing every year? This year we even have to take a course.

    IBM is so worried about employees doing something that makes IBM appear unethical but then they have corporate policies coming from the very top that are on a shaky ethical foundation.

    Honestly, I remember when IBM was NOT like this. The shaky ethics thing is new...less than a decade old. In the old days, IBM was ethical to the point of priggishness.

    There are still some things that differentiate IBM as an employer from other tech co.s but every year, they become fewer and fewer.
    somewhereinCA
    • HP SBC

      Yes, the SBC (Standards of Business Conduct) takes you through a fascinating journey of identifying right and wrong behavior, conflicts of interest, and how to deal with varous workplace issues. With the various things that IT companies have been involved in, it's an attempt to limit liability and place the entire legal burden on the employee.
      SWMCinci
  • RE: IBM job cuts underway

    Hmmm. Interesting. IBM Australia hiring people right now.
    timmo@...
  • RE: IBM job cuts underway

    Ever hear of the "Ripple Effect"??? I work at a plant that specializes in mainboards for high-end, US-only and Hi-end Tech use... and we're looking at similar layoffs. Merix is laying off about 1/3d of its production workforce in Forest Grove, Oregon, as well as more in it's engineering, IT, and staff support employee base. That does not even include the China plants or the San Jose plant. This coming week, we will find out who goes, and who still has a job. We just got the news locally (Portland, Oregon Metropolitan area) that one Intel plant will be closed in Hillsboro, Oregon. Some of the employees will be given the option of transfering to other plants, but many will be layed-off indefinately. The US of A has been touted for years as the most technological and inovative productor of computer hardware and software for years. What Happened???
    RGrimsrud@...
  • Corporates suck

    Its disgusting that the likes of IBM and HP can use the recession as an excuse to get rid of people. Both companies are making plenty of money and both CEOs are playing their own little game with hard working peoples lives. All so that they can pander to the fools of Wall St and carry on banking their unjustifiable paychecks.

    It'll turn sour before long when they start losing clients.
    blahblah3