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IBM faces workers' fury over more job cuts

Posted: 30 Jan 2009 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:IBM job cut? layoff scheme? offshoring work?

IBM Corp. has cut more workers, including within its chip, research and other units, causing anger and friction inside the computer giant. IBM has been outsourcing jobs to India and elsewhere, while slashing workers in the U.S., according to some.

As reported, IBM last week cut some 2,800 workers from its software, sales and distribution units, said Lee Conrad, national coordinator of the Alliance@IBM/CWA Local 1701, an IBM employee organization.

Then, on Jan. 25, IBM slashed 1,200 more jobs within its Systems and Technology Group worldwide, Conrad said. That group includes its system and chip units.

Within IBM's Microelectronics Group, there were selected cuts within its fab groups in East Fishkill, and Burlington, he said. There were also 200 layoffs within IBM's prized research groups at various locations, he said.

IBM is expected to make more cuts throughout 2009, despite posting strong results in the fourth quarter of 2008. "It was a glowing report," he said. "The next day, they started get rid of jobs."

Offshoring scheme
The company has confirmed the layoffs in various reports, but it has been mum about the size and the extent of the cutbacks. The computer giant has been able to skirt the issue, because the layoffs fall short of 500 in a specific division, as defined by the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act, or WARN Act

IBM's apparent unwillingness to communicate its intentions to the mediaand its employeeshas reached the boiling within Big Blue. "Employees are angry about it," he said.

One of the biggest concerns for Conrad and others is the ongoing trend towards IT outsourcing in India and other locations. The IT contracts are often signed in the United States, but the actual work is being done in India, he said.

And the balance of jobs is tipping towards regions outside the U.S. For example, IBM had some 6,000 workers in India five years ago. Today, it has 80,000 employees in India, he said.

"The Alliance is strongly urging IBM not to go forward with a new round of job cuts and to stop the offshoring of U.S. workers' jobs," Conrad said on the Alliance's Website. The site also has a number of postings from employees and ex-employees, who are angered by Blue Blue's actions.

"There is a growing concern among employees that IBM will accelerate the offshoring of our jobs. To offshore U.S. jobs in the middle of an economic crisis and rising unemployment is simply unacceptable," said Tom Midgley, Alliance president, in a statement. "We will work with our elected representatives to push for legislation that protects U.S. jobs and calls for the full disclosure of IBM's offshoring and outsourcing of American jobs."

Where are the cuts?
According to reports, IBM's cuts hit several locations. Morale was at all-time low after the actions, according to a report.

The cuts included its chip plant in Essex Junction in Vermont. Some 477 jobs were slashed at the plant, according to Burlington FreePress.

About 5,300 employees worked at IBM's Vermont fab at last count. The employment level at the plant has fallen since 2001, when about 8,500 people worked at the fab, according to the report

Up to 700 jobs were cut in its Systems and Technology Group in East Fishkill and Poughkeepsie in Dutchess County, according to the Poughkeepsie Journal.

"Amer Khurshid, who works in the CMP Department, a section of the microelectronics chip plant at East Fishkill's Building 323, said about 100 employees were laid off in that building," according to another report.

A significant number of layoffs, reportedly about 800 workers, have taken place at IBM's plant in Rochester, Minnesota. That is part of the Systems and Technology Group.

- Mark LaPedus
EE Times

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