IBM confirms layoffs underway overseas, won't comment on US cuts
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Research Triangle Park, N.C. — An IBM spokesperson has confirmed that Big Blue is laying off workers overseas in order to "rebalance its workforce."
However, Doug Shelton, director of IBM Corporate Communications, wouldn't comment on cuts in North America where layoffs in 2013 led to more than 3,500 people losing jobs.
IBM already is in the process of cutting more than 3,100 jobs overseas, based on information from a variety of sources.
"As reported in our recent earnings briefing, IBM continues to rebalance its workforce to meet the changing requirements of its clients, and to pioneer new, high value segments of the IT industry," Shelton told WRALTechWire via email. (Read WRALTechWire coverage of the "rebalancing" announcement online.)
"To that end, IBM is positioning itself to lead in areas such as Cloud, Analytics and Cognitive Computing and investing in these priority areas.
"For example, we have recently committed $1 billion to our new Watson [supercomputer] unit and $1.2 billion to expand our Cloud footprint around the world."
Media reports out of Israel, meanwhile, indicate that job cuts are being made there. Cuts have already been reported in India, Brazil and several European countries.
Shelton said he had statement "to offer at this time" about any layoffs in the U.S.
According to IBM, the company employs some 434,000 people worldwide. It does not disclose how many employees it has at various locations or in countries.
"IBM’s total workforce has remained stable over the past three years, and IBM now employs more than 400,000 people worldwide," Shelton said.
WRALTechWire coverage of IBM's "Rebalancing:"
- IBM layoffs hitting hundreds in Brazil
- IBMer in India describes layoffs as a "slaughter."
- Alliance union expects U.S. layoffs to begin Feb. 19 or 26
- Analyst says $1B rebalancing likely to cut 13,000 jobs.
Lee Conrad, National Coordinator for Alliance@IBM CWA Local 1701 which is seeking to unionize IBM workers, took issue with Shelton's statement.
"Once again IBM uses words like rebalancing which in reality is the destruction of peoples livelihood," Conrad, a long-time IBM employee before retiring, told WRALTechWire. "IBM's employee number worldwide might be 'stable' but the ongoing churn and burn at many IBM locations and sites point out a different reality.
"Employees who feel safe now need to see what has happened to many who thought they were safe from job cuts and unfortunately were not."
7,500 Jobs to Lenovo?
IBM continues to make acquisitions but also is preparing to sell its x86 server business to Lenovo. If the deal wins regulatory approval, some 7,500 people would be transferred to Lenovo.
Of those, some 2,000 are based in Research Triangle Park.
The x86 business is part of the Systems and Technology Group, or STG, which has suffered from declining revenues. STG is taking the brunt of layoffs in India, where the latest round of cuts began earlier this week, and Brazil, according to reports from workers in those countries.
An IBMer in Brazil reached out directly to WRALTechWire after reading reports about layoffs in India.
The same thing is happening in Brazil and the story needs to be told, the worker said.
"So far the numbers are close to 450 this time," the worker who asked not to be identified said. Major cuts also were made in Brazil last year as part of a work force reduction.
The number could climb much higher.
Alliance said Thursday afternoon that some 1,500 layoffs are expected in Brazil.
On the Alliance@IBM website Thursday, posts noted possible layoffs in the works in Australia and Germany,
The latest "rebalancing" of Big Blue is heading west, with the first reports of job losses in the U.S. coming from New York. There, a "few"contractors have been "walked out."
Speculation has been that layoffs in the U.S. would begin either Feb. 19 or Feb. 26.
The "resource action," as IBM terms job reduction programs, began Tuesday in India.
"Reports from Europe and South America are also coming in. In Europe, due to union contracts, the targeted cuts must be negotiated," the Alliance noted in an update. "Some cuts will be voluntary."
The layoff count as off Thursday evening as compiled by the Alliance based on reports from workers and affiliated unions in Europe:
- Belgium, 105
- Argentina, 600
- Brazil, 1500
- Netherlands, 240
- Norway, 35
- France, 480
- Italy, 430
Interestingly, the reductions in Italy include 60 workers who sources there say are "being moved out to Lenovo."
If IBM cuts follow a similar plan as implemented in 2013, some 13,000 layoffs across its workforce of more than 434,000 are expected. That 2013 plan led to hundreds of layoffs in North Carolina and about 3,500 across North America, based on documents and sources.
Conrad had predicted earlier this week that layoffs would start in Europe as soon as the company, unions and governments were able to strike agreements. Unlike the U.S., he said, many EU countries are very strict when allowing corporate cuts.
The cuts are part of a $1 billion workforce rebalancing as described by IBM's chief financial officer last month.
One employee describes the layoff process in India as a "slaughter."
IBM still employs about 9,500 people across North Carolina.
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