Word has it that IBM's latest big staff purge is now underway, with former Big Blue workers reporting that they have been handed pink slips along with kits describing their severance packages.
Rumors that IBM was planning major job cuts were flying fast and furious this week, following a Forbes editorial that claimed the firm could shed as much as 26 per cent of its workforce.
IBM categorically denied that suggestion, saying in a statement that the idea that it would be planning to cut more than 100,000 jobs was "totally ludicrous."
Still, IBM's disappointing fourth-quarter earnings report and rumors of a major re-org have had Big Blue sites around the globe bracing for layoffs. Australia's Technology Spectator speculated that as many as 400 positions may potentially be affected there. Meanwhile, India's Economic Times reported that IBM's total headcount on the subcontinent is expected to shrink to around 100,000 by the end of March, down from 165,000 in 2011.
If India has been particularly hard-hit by recent layoffs at IBM, however, US employees won't escape this latest round unscathed. On Wednesday, the Alliance@IBM website, a forum for unionized IBM employees in the US, began receiving its first reports of "Resource Actions" – sugarcoated IBM-speak meaning someone got the axe.
"The cuts have started in the US and are quickly spreading," griped one commenter. "I received my call this morning. I received a 3 rating for the first time in my entire career. It was completely unfounded with no documentation to substantiate. 18 years with the company and they totally betray and demoralize before they let you go."
According to the News & Observer newspaper in Raleigh, North Carolina, some of the layoffs have already hit IBM's sprawling Research Triangle Park campus in the region.
KCRG TV in Cedar Rapids, Iowa reports that cuts have also hit Big Blue's facility in Dubuque, with approximately 200 staffers affected.
IBM workers in New York State, on the other hand, are expected to be unaffected by the latest layoffs – including those in the company's semiconductor manufacturing business, which it recently sold off to GlobalFoundries. A GlobalFoundries spokesperson told the Poughkeepsie Journal that it had extended employment offers to "all of the current IBM employees who are covered under the terms of our acquisition agreement."
IBM still hasn't 'fessed up to exactly how many employees it does expect to let go, but it said in its earnings report that it plans to take a one-time "restructuring charge" of approximately $580m. Analysts have calculated that this likely means "several thousand" pink slips – a far cry from the more than 100,000 that Forbes made up.
And Big Blue, naturally, sees such moves not as cuts but as "rebalancing."
"At a time when IBM is aggressively transforming, the company continues to rebalance its workforce to meet the changing requirements of its clients and to lead in new, high value segments of the IT industry, including cloud, analytics, mobile, security, social and cognitive computing," the company told KCRG.
IBM spokespeople have further observed that the company currently has around 15,000 job openings available. ®