IBM's sacking spree reaches Australia – and as staff wait to exit, they're offered AU$4k to find new workers

Axed employees given chance to write almost-certainly futile letters to defend their jobs after the pink slip arrives


IBM's new round of "resource actions" – Big Blue speak for sackings – has reached Australia, The Register has learned, and will result in the creation of new cross-disciplinary teams to serve clients.

We understand that staff in IBM's Australian offices were summoned to unpleasant meetings on 18 May and told their last day at the company will be 31 July 2020.

Staff were told they can escape redundancy by explaining why their role should be preserved. One soon-to-be-former IBMer told us they have been offered the chance to pen a "written defence" of their role, but that their manager advised this is a nicety that allows the company to demonstrate it has conducted a consultative process. The staffer does not expect to survive the round of redundancies, or that defences will be successful unless they demonstrate a redundancy translates directly to substantial revenue loss.

We understand that IBM plans for a slimmed-down workforce to meet client obligations by creating new cross-disciplinary teams that reduce the need for collaboration across different IBM business units. We've been told that client-facing IBMers often need assistance from product specialists who aren't permanently attached to their teams and that this arrangement can make for slow responses and frustrated clients. IBM hopes its new way of working will bring more multi-skilled workers into client-facing teams, a plan that's termed "Agile services".

We also hear that the Australian redundancies have predominantly affected older staff and that at least 100 full-time equivalent staff will depart, with perhaps double that number impacted.

IBM has not responded to our request to detail how many redundancies were made, the profile of those let go, or its plans to serve clients as it reduces its team.

"We have no additional comment other than what is available in the public domain," a spokesperson said. At present there's precious little in that domain other than a canned statement to the effect that "IBM's workforce decisions are in the interest of the long-term health of our business."

A final indignity: staff told they're no longer required are still receiving emails pointing out they can be rewarded with up to AU$4,000 for referring new hires to IBM.

And to make matters worse, those emails are still landing in Lotus/IBM/HCL Notes inboxes! ®


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