IBM managers are “urgently” scheduling one-on-one meetings with staffers for Wednesday in what appears to be the start of a significant round of job cuts at Big Blue, according to employee sources at the Armonk, New York-based computing giant. IBM this week denied a previous report that it planned to cut up to 26 percent of its workforce, but did concede that it would eliminate “several thousand” positions this year.
“Reports have been coming in from employees today that point toward Wednesday as the start of the Resource Action/job cuts,” a representative for an IBM employee group told International Business Times, in an email Tuesday. “Employees have told us they have been sent emails with urgent requests for one on one meetings with their managers on Wednesday,” said Lee Conrad, national coordinator for Alliance@IBM, an affiliate of Communications Workers of America, Local 1701.
A spokesman for IBM said the company does not comment “on rumor or speculation.”
Conrad estimated that the total number of employees culled from IBM in this latest round of cuts would be about 10,000, but said it was unclear how many of those would be from the company’s U.S. ranks.
IBM on Monday characterized as “ludicrous” a report by Forbes writer Robert X. Cringely (whose real name is Mark Stephens) that said the company would cut more than 112,000 jobs under an efficiency program known as Project Chrome. However, representatives for IBM noted that the company did announce fourth-quarter earnings charges totaling $600 million for “workforce rebalancing,” which is Big Blue speak for layoffs.
“This equates to several thousand people, a mere fraction of what’s been reported,” an IBM spokesman said Monday. Analysts estimate that IBM’s redundancies cost the company about $70,000 to $75,000 per worker, which means the Q4 charge implies layoffs of about 8,000 to 9,000. That number is close to estimates provided to IBTimes by Alliance@IBM.
IBM’s worldwide headcount stood at 431,212 in 2013, down from 434,246 in 2012. IBM laid off a number of employees last year, but also hired 45,000 new workers in 2014 and currently has 15,000 job openings in growth areas like the cloud, mobility, analytics and social media.
IBM needs to take steps to reverse what has been a series of dismal quarters.
The company last week reported sharp declines in fourth-quarter revenue and profits as it was hit with the dual headwinds of a weak global economy and a strong U.S. dollar. Big Blue also continued to show signs that it’s not growing sales in new markets like cloud and mobile computing fast enough to offset declines in traditional enterprise hardware and services, which still account for the bulk of its business.
Revenue for the fourth quarter from continuing operations came in at $24.1 billion, roughly in line with estimates but down 12 percent from a year ago. Net income fell 11 percent, to $5.5 billion, while earnings per share totaled $5.54, off 4 percent.