Dispatches from the firing line at IBM:

  • “People broke down after seeing the inhuman treatment. Laptops along with the cases were confiscated, so several employees were seen crying and exiting building carrying and balancing their personal belongings with their two hands.” 
  • “IBM STG INDIA is doing RA and it is very deep and numbers are huge.”
  • “Just heard from a colleague in Bangalore that job cuts there have begun. Workers asked to leave on the spot. He claims 6 out of 23 people in his department.”

RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, N.C. – IBM’s latest $1 billion “rebalancing,” as described by its CFO last month, is underway. And the first country hit is India, based on reports from Blue Blue workers there on Tuesday. The so-called “Resource Action” struck in the country where IBM reportedly employs its greatest number of workers.

One employee describes the layoff process as a “slaughter.”

The business unit hit is the Systems Technology Group – IBM’s troubled hardware group which is selling its low-end x86 server business to Lenovo for $2.3 billion.

Workers were given little notice. Reads one note just sent to the union seeking to represent IBM workers:

“Job cuts in India STG. .Announced today including managers.Asked to return laptops with in 2 hrs and leave premises.”

Other notes as cited below were much more detailed. All reflect sudden notices – and quick departures, with many reportedly being quite emotional.

One analyst has estimated that IBM will cut 13,000 of its more than 434,000 workers, based on the amount of money set aside for the rebalancing IBM disclosed after another quarter of disappointing earnings. A similar action in 2013 led to some 3,500 job cuts in North America alone, with several hundred hitting IBM’s North Carolina work force. 

Lee Conrad, head of union efforts to unionize IBMers, has received emails from workers as well as a reporter in India. The “RA” is expected to hit IBMers in North America as early as Feb. 19, based on internal speculation.

“Still waiting here in the U.S.,” Conrad wrote. 

IBMers have described the rebalancing as “Project Apollo.” The 2013 action was called “Project Phoenix.”

WRALTechWire has reached out to IBM for comment but as of early Wednesday had received no response. 

Given IBM’s importance to the company both as a market for its business and the number of employees based there, Conrad said the cuts starting first in that country came as an unexpected development.

“I am a bit surprised, but given it is STG it was expected,” he said. 

One email from India  is printed in full in order to capture the atmosphere of what took place. Acronyms refer to various IBM work units, except TP which is believed to refer to employee ThinkPad computers. Bangalore is the headquarters for IBM’s India-based operations. 

“Slaughter House”

“STG Bangalore literally turned into a slaughter house today.

“Several employees were called to a meeting and RA’d.

“Their TPs were confiscated and they were asked to vacate premises immediately.

“Severance package was on an average 3 months basic component of salary, which is like 6 weeks full pay.

“RA per department as on today

  • SRDC 40%
  • Processors 15%
  • SRAM 80%
  • SSE Just began, final numbers not available

“RAs expected to last till friday.

“The fear is that HCM might be wiped off totally in a day or two. EDA and methodology numbers not yet available”

“People broke down after seeing the inhuman treatment.

“Laptops along with the cases were confiscated, so several employees were seen crying and exiting building carrying and balancing their personal belongings
with their two hands”

Two posts at the Alliance website also referenced layoffs at Bangalore, which is known as India’s “Silicon Valley.”

IBM employs more than 100,000 people across India, according to India media reports. IBM no longer discloses employee numbers by location.

“RAs Started in Bangalore”

Three other posts give insight into what’s happening in Bangalore:

  • “IBM today had a massive layoff in STG bangalore more than 40% staff was let go off in a single day. Be it PBC 1 or 2 doesnot matter you are just asked to leave IBM premises by immediate effect. I fail to understand how joB cut will help management to achieve 20 EPS. The upper executives lack vision and clarity to restructure business process. Good bye to ibm hopefully will be in better place than ibm.”

(Note: PBC refers to personal evaluations. EPS references IBM’s target of delivering $20 per share in earnings by 2015.)

  • “RAs started in STG Bangalore, hearing that large numbers impacted. Will keep you posted on the details as i get them. the job market is reasonably good outside and the average experience here is about 6-7 years.people are not too worried. most were anyway sick of the company and its junk policies. -Bangalore RAs started-
  • “People were reacting to the sale of semiconductor business news rather harshly, well wishers were asking me when was I planning to leave IBM, and the others sarcastically asked me what am I still doing here in STG. Felt very embarrassed walking in the corridor today. The general perception here is that if you are still with IBM, it is because you did not find a job elsewhere. Phew !! that just means to say IBM STG is being considered the worst place to be at this time. We all at STG India would like to express solidarity with the IBM USA work force preparing for yet another RA in the coming weeks. Rest assured we do not feel any better being employed with IBM either. The flood gates are opening and I anticipate that we will lose all our above average work force in the next 3 months. Good luck to you all, I am sure there is life outside of IBM. bye for now, time to update my resume, keep in touch. -STG INDIA-

The second poster is referring to reports that IBM is looking to sell or find a partner for its semiconductor business.

IBM still employs some 9,500 people across North Carolina. Of those, some 2,000 would be transferred to Lenovo if government regulators approve the x86 deal.