Our Lips Are Sealed: More IBM Layoffs

By Donald Sears  |  Posted 2009-08-07

IBM is at it again.

Big Blue has evidently had layoffs again, mainly in Global Services, but you'd hardly know it from IBM. A company spokesperson gave this statement: "IBM is constantly managing resources as client demands evolve across a base of nearly 400,000 employees."

That's like saying ice melts in the sun.

The company has laid off an estimated 10,000 employees in 2009 so far, say union officials, who are the only ones keeping track of the data publicly.

A union member told Computerworld's Patrick Thibodeau that employees are not pleased with the secrecy. "It is not right that IBM continues to keep job cut numbers, locations and divisions secret," said Conrad in an e-mail. "IBM needs to come clean on how many jobs are being terminated as the work is offshored. We call for full transparency." The Alliance@IBM is a Communications Workers of America local that doesn't have enough members to gain official recognition as a bargaining unit.

Thibodeau goes on to sharply point out how the only other way you can get employee numbers is in the annual report.

The union has a story detailing how IBM is shipping some jobs overseas. From that story:

As unemployment increases, IBM continues to abandon the US workforce in favor of offshore workers. Not only is IBM shifting work from US locations to low wage countries, it is also importing foreign workers to replace US workers.

IBM employees and workers at companies IBM has outsourcing agreements with are losing their jobs to low wage imported workers.

Three recent examples should raise the concern of all US workers:

* Advanced Auto Parts call center in Roanoke, Virginia. Outsourced to IBM. US workers terminated and call center offshored to India. * New York City Department of Finance consulting contract on Servers. Outsourced to IBM. IBM brings in IBM India employees. * UPS IT department. Outsourced to IBM. IBM India workers training onsite in NJ. Work to be moved to India.

While moving work overseas is one way IBM can boost profits, it's certainly a contentious predicament for U.S. workers. And when you add in the secrecy when it comes to publicly talking to stockholders and the general public about layoffs, you end up coming off as if you're hiding something.

Doesn't IBM owe its employees a little decency? Is it like they never worked there? They weren't doing meaningful, profit-producing work for you? That's sad and rather callous, IBM.

Where are the shareholders in all of this? Seems like you are hearing very little dissent from them on this secrecy subject. If it were me, I'd want clear numbers regarding what you are doing with a labor force this large and important to IBM's business.

If there ever was a company that is its employees, IBM is that company.

Big Blue may be a New York Stock Exchange darling, but it has a long way to go in these questionable investment times in reporting on what it is doing with its key asset.

If Global Services--the professional services wing of the company, which makes huge consulting dollars and sells across all IBM product lines--is going through some chaos or slower selling cycles, I think a stockholder would want to know.

P.S. Hey, IBM union: Please put dates on your stories.

Rocket Fuel