Two IBM employees reported that layoffs have commenced inside IBM this week, according to a union organisation that tracks such things, [email protected].
Layoffs have been ongoing all quarter, according to one employee posting to the Union website, who said the last layoff in his unit finished in May.
While it doesn’t sound like IBM is targeting a massive number of employees right now, its layoffs tend to occur in dribbles and drabs, laid-off employees report.
IBM won’t disclose the number of people it cuts and doesn’t have to report that figure under the WARN act unless it conducts a layoff that cuts 500 people or more at once.
When we asked IBM, a spokesperson declined to comment.
IBM tends to talk about layoffs in financial terms, how much a “workforce rebalancing” — as IBM calls it — costs the company in any given quarter.
IBM took a $US280 million charge for rebalancing in the first quarter of 2015, CFO Martin Schroeter reported in April. And he said then that he expected to spend about the same amount of money this quarter, indicating more layoffs would be a thing.
In fact, IBM is so closed-lipped about layoff numbers it stopped releasing information about job titles and ages of workers being let go in 2014, Bloomberg reported at the time. This even though employers are required by U.S. federal law to reveal that data if they want employees to waive their right to file age discrimination lawsuits as part of their severance package.
Today IBM asks workers to agree to binding arbitration as part of their severance package, Bloomberg reported.
IBM’s standard severance package is 1 week of pay for each 6 months at the company, with a maximum of 26 weeks, one person said on the [email protected] forum. The costs of a severance package is reflected in the charges IBM takes each quarter.
[email protected] and others had been using the information about ages and job titles to generate something of a running tally about how many people had been cut.
Without even that much data, workers simply post what they know, or what they hear, to the [email protected] website.
That’s hardly a scientific way of tracking workforce changes.
One person, for instance, reported that 1,000 people were laid off in June in Australia. Another reported that there had been “two big waves of layoffs this year” in that person’s business unit.
In April, Senator Grassley wrote a letter to IBM demanding to know details about its layoffs and its usage of foreign Visas. IBM told him, “For competitive reasons IBM does not release data on workforce changes.”
What IBM has officially said of its workforce was filed in its annual report to the SEC.
It said it reduced headcount 12% worldwide in 2014, or 51,620 people (from 431,212 to 379,592 employees).
But most of those cuts, 35,000 employees, came from selling business units, it said. Those people didn’t necessarily lose their jobs.
That means that last year around 16,600 people were cut from IBM’s workforce. IBM also said it spent $US1.5 billion on “workforce rebalancing” in 2014.
Even with all these bits of data, its hard to extrapolate how many IBM employees will be let go in 2015, or if IBM’s total workforce will shrink.
IBM is in the middle of a painful transition in which all of its major business units are shrinking. It is trimming expenses in the ageing areas while trying to ramp up hot growth areas as fast as possible, including hiring people with the new skills it needs, like cloud computing.
Upshot is, we may never learn the total number of employees IBM has cut.
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