A new round of layoffs – the second in the last three months – is sweeping across IBM with numerous reports of job cuts occurring at Big Blue’s Research Triangle Park campus.
IBM confirmed that cuts are being made but also points out that it has thousands of open jobs as new areas of emphasis such as ‘cloud” and supercomputing (Watson) become the future of the company.
“IBM is aggressively transforming its business to lead in a new era of cognitive and cloud computing,” an IBM executive told WRAL TechWire.
“To this end, IBM currently has more than 25,000 open positions, many in these key skills areas.
“If we meet our hiring targets, we expect our employee numbers to be roughly the same at year-end as they were in 2015.”
However, IBMers say few of those jobs are in the U.S. Several people with access to the internal jobs list say fewer than 2,000 are in the United States.
Asked about where the open jobs are located, the IBM spokesman said he would have no further comment.
Worldwide, IBM employs some 378,000 people.
IBMers began reporting the second “resource action” (as IBM labels restructurings and layoffs) earlier this week with the company giving each three months notice and one month of severance pay. IBM (NYSE: IBM) also cut jobs in March. IBM recently cut its severance pay to that amount from a long-standing practice of severance based on years of service.
The posts include several from the Triangle.
- “30 RAs RTP, NC printer operations,” posted one IBMer to the “Watching IBM” website at Facebook, which monitors the company. Run by retired IBMer Lee Conrad, Watching IBM was launched in January when efforts to unionize IBM were halted. Conrad monitors all IBM-related information sent directly to him or posted at the site.
- “28 years with IBM and had a 2+ rating for 2015 PBC, and I just got told I am being laid off August 17th. RTP, NC.,” a worker noted.
- “GTS is delivery team got hit here in Rtp,” added another poster, referring to an IBM job unit Global Technology Services. GTS makes up a good portion of IBM’s work force in RTP.
How many people work for IBM in RTP and across North Carolina is no longer disclosed by the company, but Conrad estimates the number has been cut in about half from some 14,000 several years ago. The estimate is based on internal information provided to the former Alliance@IBM union.
Layoffs are being reported across multiple business groups in the U.S. as well as other countries.
“I am still adding job cut comments,” Conrad told WTW. “This job cut seems to be as large as the one in March, possibly in the low thousands.”
Tech website IEEE Spectrum and others estimated a “20 to 25 percent range” slashing of IBM’s work force two months ago. That would be “something like 18,000 to 25,000 in the United States,” the site said.
Information Week estimated the cuts at 14,000.
Citing worker posts, Conrad added: “Many reports of jobs being moved offshore.”
Among the groups being hit are high-profile units such as Watson (the supercomputer) and analytics – two keep points of emphasis for IBM chair and CEO Virginia Rometty as she reshapes the company away from hardware and traditional IT services.
“35 years with IBM. 2+ rating. Got my RA call, RA’d from Analytic s, RTP, NC,” wrote another Triangle worker.
“Done August 17th. My manager told me its big one, as the revenue is no longer there and expect more cuts to come.
“I knew it was only a matter of time, truly a major relief but still hurts. No longer have worry about RA’s year after year.
“As for trying to find a job internally, is a waste of time as other poster’s have posted. I’ll go to a company that appreciates its employees.”
The IBMer is referencing employee performance ratings on a 4-point scale (1 being best).
In conducting resource actions, IBM tells workers that they can apply for open jobs elsewhere in the company. IBM says it has thousands of openings in growth areas such as “cloud” and Watson.
However, employees often complain that when applying for jobs the positions are “frozen” – or won’t be filled. Or, they end up not being hired.
Wrote one: “RA’ed March 2. Applied for 2 jobs and the hiring managers wanted to give me the positions. One job was in Watson and the other was GTS. Then after 2 1/2 months, told that HR would not allow the roles to be filled. No biggie as I have other offers outside of IBM but the internal postings are probably not wise to pursue.”
A worker in the UK was “confirmed redundant” – the U.K. term for being laid off. The IBMer complained about what happened in applying for another position.
“[C]onfirmed redundant on 13th May, Leaving date 5th August. We were told to find an internal seat, lots of us applied, interviewed and offered a role.
“Great – Not, they set up a redeployment approval board who led us on for a month and at the end of the consultation period, they said they cannot afford to fund the advertised seats, they cut the seats the At Risk people applied for to a duration of one month only, thus excluding us for applying. Constructive dismissal I would say.”
There was one positive note posted at the website that references the Triangle and possibly finding another job.
“For anyone RA’d in the Chapel Hill/ Raleigh, NC area – Blue Cross/Blue Shield of NC is looking to hire,” a writer pointed out.
“Two prior IBMer’s I know have gone there and are HAPPY! There is life after IBM and there are companies out there wanting to take advantage of the cast away talent IBM is so unappreciative of! Best of Luck!”