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UK's largest union to Arm: Freeze job cuts now

Asks CPU house to open up the books so it can examine 'true financial situation'

Updated One of Britain's largest unions, Unite, is calling on chip designer Arm's management to pause an ongoing redundancy process and "open up the books" for closer inspection to reveal the company's "true" financial health.

Arm CEO Rene Haas recently wrote to employees warning of a need to "stay competitive" and "remove duplication of work now that we are one Arm."

He said this includes stopping work that is "no longer critical to our future success; and think about how we get work done."

These are highly skilled technology workers. They can't afford to lose their jobs and the UK economy can't afford to lose these skills

The plan is to be "more disciplined about costs", he said.

All in all, Haas said of the process: "Although it is the right thing to do for Arm's future, this is not going to be easy."

The number of job cuts was not specified by Haas, and Arm has contested reports that 12 to 15 percent of the 6,400-strong workforce could be chopped.

Unite, which as of 2020 had 1.4 million members across various industries in Britain including construction, transport, manufacturing and technology, has implored Arm to rethink things.

Regional officer Matthew Whaley said: "We call on Arm to open up the books and freeze job cuts now to allow Unite's accountants to examine the company's true financial situation. These are highly skilled technology workers. They can't afford to lose their jobs and the UK economy can't afford to lose these skills.

"It appears that bosses want to reduce costs by targeting skilled workers' jobs while piling extra work on those left behind," he added in a statement.

Arm has not revealed publicly in which part or parts of the organization the redundancies will be made. The Reg thinks it unthinkable engineers on the front line will be released. New broom Haas, who was installed as chief in February, may think he has identified back office efficiencies or specific projects to be terminated.

Whaley at Unite said of the redundancies: "This is a knee jerk reaction which could have lasting consequences. Unite is calling for a comprehensive and transparent consultation and a freeze on job cuts."

Unite's words may fall on deaf ears among Arm's top brass: its membership among Arm employees is understood to number in the tens rather than in the hundreds of thousands.

The Reg has asked Arm to comment.

For the nine months ended 31 December 2021 [PDF], Arm reported net revenue of $2.045bn, up 40 per cent year-on-year and pre-tax profit of $260,000 versus a loss of $203,019 a year earlier.

The backdrop to the Arm's belt-tightening proposals is last month's termination of the $58bn merger with Nvidia, after management at both businesses gave up on appeasing concerns of competition regulators in the EU, US, China and the UK. Under the terms of the agreement, Arm-owner Softbank Group retained a $1.25bn fee paid by Nvidia and Nvidia retained its 20-year Arm license.

The next best option is seemingly to float Arm, and so, as we pointed out previously, trimming operating expenses might be attractive to Haas and his cohorts. Should it be confirmed that 15 percent of Arm's workforce is leaving, Unite's ranks may swell with frustrated Arm employees. ®

Updated at 1518 UTC on March 21 to add

A spokesperson for Arm refused to comment on Unite's claims today, but said of the redundancies:

"If the proposals go ahead, we anticipate that around 12-15 percent of people in Arm would be affected globally. The proposals are subject to consultation processes according to local laws. These changes are designed to optimize Arm's G&A, research and other non-engineering functions, ensuring we have the right balance of roles to support the size and scale of the business. The changes are designed specifically to ensure we can continue to deliver on our strategic plan and remain focused on engineering and product delivery."

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