A fresh round of staff layoffs has reportedly hit multiple divisions of technology goliath IBM, with dozens of soon-to-be-former employees speaking out on condition of anonymity about how long years of service have been bookended by the sudden notice of termination.
While the exact figure surrounding how many people are being forced out of International Business Machines Corp – also dubbed 'Big Blue' – remains undisclosed, staffers in the UK, US and Australia have reported receiving Resource Action (RA) notices over the past week – with more said to be on the horizon.
According to the Wall Street Journal, the latest cuts started as IBM quietly laid off staff from US offices in North Carolina, New York City and Colorado. Meanwhile, in the UK, staff from the firm's Global Technology Services (GTS) have been informed that the corporate axe is expected to swing throughout the month of June, which will be the second round of redundancies to hit UK shores within three months. Additionally, in Australia, reports indicate nearly a dozen jobs were recently slashed from a Sales and Distribution (S&D) department.
While IBM refuses to release exact figures regarding how many staff members will be let go, a previous estimate from Sanford Bernstein analyst Toni Sacconaghi said the number could be over 14,000 jobs.
IBM first revealed what it branded a "workforce rebalancing" for European employees in late January, which impacted around 400 staff from Global Technology Services, Global Business Services (GBS) and UK Labs. In February, Big Blue said over 1,000 people from GTS alone were at risk, and that around 200 of those notified would be gone by August. As previously reported, another round of major cuts hit the firm in March and were at least 50% worse than the first instances.
Yet, while IBM said the moves are part of a rebalancing act, internal employees appear to paint a more complex picture of the situation.
"The idea behind the layoffs is that higher paying countries like United States and parts of EMEA would reduce head count by having lower cost countries like India, Belarus & Poland pick up the work," one source told IBTimes UK, who is quoted under condition of anonymity.
"Most layoffs are coming from around the globe from GTS. IBM is moving all jobs to India, Brazil and Costa Rica [...] IBM is not able to support its current GTS clients. It has started reducing services and support options. Clients are now looking elsewhere."
The problem now faced by IBM, our source added, is that potential staff members in the targeted countries likely "don't have the skills" equivalent to their US-UK counterparts. The source added: "Almost everyone believes they are on the next RA list. People are so busy looking for other jobs I would assume productivity has dropped overall by 10%. Its just crazy right now."
Our source confirmed to IBTimes UK the next round of RA notices is planned for the EMEA region next month – June 2016.
This is backed up by a recent report from The Register, which disclosed details about an internal memo circulated within IBM telling staff members about an upcoming 'Employee Consultation Committee'. This consultation group, the memo explained, would "discuss proposals for the organisation to meet its business objectives" and will last for 30 days, beginning 1 June.
"No-one is safe"
While IBM remains vague about the exact scope of the cut-backs now impacting staff, a social media group called 'Watching IBM' has amassed a slew of anonymous comments from both current and former staff members offering real-time updates on the situation.
The Facebook group, which is administrated by former a IBM staffer called Lee Conrad, has one thread dedicated to the most recent round of cuts.
One commenter, who messaged the group on condition of anonymity, said: "I'm a Global TSS [Technical Support Services] employee. I was notified today after 18 years and a 1 rating this year that my position will be moved overseas. Four month Work End Date and a month's severance. My last day is 17 August. No-one is safe."
"Just got the RA call from my manager," another person added. "He stated that IBM is doing global restructuring and all areas are being impacted. Mentioned that IBM got lots of money back from Japan – enough money to spend on more RA's. My job in GTS will be replaced by someone on the team in Bulgaria. I've been in IBM since the PwC merger in 2002."
At the time of writing, there was nearly 70 comments in the thread, most detailing a recent redundancy notice. "Just RA'd. 16 years, longer than anything in life but family," another commenter wrote. "Cold, unjustified and insulting."
Move to the cloud
For its part, IBM has maintained it has "more than 20,000" open positions within the company – which is increasing looking to move its focus towards cloud computing and AI technology to stay ahead of the curve (and competition). A spokesperson told IBTimes UK the firm has now "begun a consultation process with employee representative groups."
The statement continued: "Pioneering emerging areas of the IT industry, such as Cloud and Cognitive, requires IBM to continually remix skills – our clients expect no less as they look to IBM to help them take advantage of innovations and new technologies. IBM continues to hire aggressively, especially in the key skills areas."
According to the Wall Street Journal, two employees within IBM said on Friday 20 May that an internal job-search tool listed between 7,000 and 8,000 open positions.