IBM Employees Say That Layoffs Have Begun

IBM CEO Ginni RomettyFortune ConferencesIBM CEO Ginni Rometty

The much talked-about layoffs at IBM have begun, some employees say.

Employees that have been cut have been discussing their experience on the website of [email protected], a union that seeks to represent IBM workers.

It isn’t clear how many will be cut or from what business units.

We’ve asked IBM to explain, but the company traditionally doesn’t give details on the layoffs such as the headcount involved, other than disclosing the amount of money it spends on these actions.

Lee Conrad, National Coordinator for [email protected] sent us this statement, “Reports are coming in on IBM job cuts from around the country and in various business units. We do not know how many and our information gathering is hampered since IBM stopped giving employees the OWBPA [Older Workers Benefits Protection Act] report that listed job titles, business units and numbers terminated.”

In May, news broke that IBM stopped disclosing that OWBPA information in the layoff packets distributed to employees.

The law requires IBM to disclose such information or give up certain rights to defend itself against age discrimination lawsuits. IBM decided to give up those rights, however it now makes employees agree to use arbitration if they want to make an age discrimination claim, employment lawyer Robin Shea explained in a blog post at the time.

All of that means that the news about layoffs this week are not coming from official IBM sources, but from the people who are voluntarily sharing their own experience with [email protected], such as this one:

Got the call first thing this morning. PBC rating 2 [i.e. IBM’s job performance rating, anything lower than a 3 is considered good], been a 2 for past 4 years, 2+ for about 8 year and 1’s before that. 17 years with IBM, was on training program, and even received a few bonus’s last year. Severance package is standard with pay at normal rate not reduced. Age almost 58 so a few years before I can retire. Will wait till tomorrow to read through the package, but I think I’m at least glad it’s finally over and can stop wondering what’s going to come.

Or this one:

Just talked to a co worker from the UK I used to work with on one of my accounts. 350 out of 2000 people got RA’d. This is SO (Strategic Outsourcing) …

IBM has confirmed that it does plan to conduct layoffs. It previously hinted that the cuts could be perhaps 10,000 people and flat-out denied that rumour circulated earlier this week that over 100,000 people will be fired.

IBM says that it is also hiring like mad, and has even hinted that its workforce is actually growing, as it wants to hire more people than it will cut.

Here’s the statement an IBM spokesperson gave us about this week’s layoff:

IBM is aggressively positioning itself for continued leadership in cloud, analytics, mobile, security, social and cognitive computing, and we are investing in and staffing these priority areas. This is not new news. IBM announced a $US600 million workforce rebalancing charge in 4Q, 2014.

Transformation on this scale requires IBM to continually remix skills — our clients expect no less as they look to IBM to help them take advantage of these innovations and new technologies. In our rapidly changing services business, we are taking actions to deliver the innovations our clients need, while balancing efficiency, quality and cost.

This means realigning our client teams to provide an optimal mix of skills, so that we can continue to improve service levels, enhance productivity and keep our clients well positioned for the future.

We continue to hire and develop key skills in the U.S. In fact, we currently have approximately 15,000 open positions, nearly half of which support the growing areas of our business.

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