back to article IBM to expunge over 500 people in latest redundo round

Almost 1,900 front line services personnel at IBM UK are at risk of redundancy and more than 500 of those will leave the company as part of the latest cost purge, multiple insiders have told The Register. This includes 1,118 heads at risk in IS Delivery (ISD), where IBM wants to ease one in three of them – 362 positions – out …

  1. johnnyblaze

    The only way is down.

    You do wonder if there will be anyone left at IBM soon. Hursley is just up the road from where I work, an IBM 'think tank'. I bet I know what they're all thinking at the moment...

    Still, when target's need hitting in big companies (or not so big in IBM's case anymore), the first thing they do is fire the staff. Always get a good return off that one! IBM - In the Bloody Mire!

    1. Aitor 1

      Re: The only way is down.

      My guess is that there are still plenty of managers....

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: The only way is down.

        Not this time......trust me on this one.

    2. TVU Silver badge

      Re: The only way is down.

      While this crude cost cutting, staff axings and lower cost outsourcings will initially produce nice balance sheets in the very short term, the long term cost will show itself in worse customer service from these el cheapo help centres followed by upset customers who will then become ex-upset customers. I guess IBM are set to learn the lesson the hard way.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: The only way is down.

        The people who are under the axe know that well enough. This relentless 'workforce rebalancing' has been going on 2 or 3 times a year for at least the past 4 years now, and the company is still in a death spiral, so its obviously not the answer.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: The only way is down.

      from the article:

      "IBM had planned to base eight in 10 roles for Global Technology Services personnel in lower wage regions, including India and Eastern Europe, by the end of this year. And judging by the size of the latest corrective surgery, it is trying to reach that target by hook or by crook."

      Now that Governments have sold us out through Free Trade and Globalization will they reduce/remove the debt of those who've lost their jobs or now work at a reduced rate. I think that would be fair.

      Anyone over 40 or 45, I'm guessing at that age range I'm older than that, probably would have expected that once they were hired full-time by a company like IBM they'd work there 'til retirement and so developed debt based on that idea. I think it's incumbent upon the Governments that are allowing this sell out of jobs to make it right. 'Cause let's face these positions are being replaced.

  2. Bob Vistakin
    Pint

    Scarper sharply

    Get out now folks, it''s only gonna get worse. The customers have rumbled IBM, that's what all this "contract erosion" management speak is all about. That cash cow has ceased to be. It will not return, ever.

    It couldn't happen to a nicer bunch.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Scarper sharply

      While the current management's destruction of the company is to be lamented, this tiring reference to the holocaust is not helpful. Nobody working at IBM today was complicit in this, just as you can't blame German schoolchildren for the atrocities committed by the Nazis, or even most of the Germans who lived at the time, other than perhaps the hoards who chose to vote for facism.

      Similarly despite being a British citizen I can hardly see how I am complicit in the Amritsar massacre, yet it was most certainly committed by the British. I could go on.

      A lot of people could take partial blame for the events of the second world war, including the British, thanks to the then government's policy of appeasement.

      As I said, not helpful. There are genuine greivances here and now. Hardly comparable to the Holocaust, but worth discussing in the context of the article. You did that right up to the last line.

      Please direct your vitriol to Rommety and her chums.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Scarper sharply

        A lot of people could take partial blame for the events of the second world war, including the British, thanks to the then government's policy of appeasement.

        Go one then, if appeasement was the wrong policy, tell us WHEN the British government should have declared war on Germany, on what RATIONAL basis, and on what LEGAL basis?

        Also, you may want to present a dynamic of how Europe would have evolved in the 1940-1960s if Hitler had been forcibly removed by foreign powers in the late 1930s, and also a military outline as to how Britain would have won a war that started essentially before an rearmament of the British military had occurred.

        Appeasement was just about the only option, and it bought years that were vital to rearm the RAF, RN and to a more modest extent, the Army.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Scarper sharply

          A/C here.

          @Ledswinger, there's no way of telling whether appeasement increased or decreased the overall impact of world war two. There are far too many complexities; it's one of those situations where we will frankly never know. However, there's a strong argument and plenty of evidence that the policy gave Hitler the green light to take over Europe and pursue his policy of murdering the innocent. It's very difficult to argue against that, even if the longer goal of eventual victory was only possible by following the path we did. It's a strong argument, I'll grant you that, but not for the millions who died.

          Paradoxically, the sheer upheaval caused by the second world war meant that the majority of us owe our very existence to it. I know my parents would never have met otherwise. I doubt they would ever have been born.

          Anyway, that wasn't the point. The point is that nobody can take any blame, credit, or other responsibility for the events that preceded their birth, by direct involvement or by association. And nor should they have to.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        @AC ... Re: Scarper sharply

        Yes, you can't blame the sins of the parent on the child.

        However...

        At IBM, Rometty is part of the culture of bean counters who have placed IBM into this death spiral.

        Rometty is attempting to fix that by getting out of old businesses and getting in to newer ones.

        There's a lot that I've heard from trusted sources, but can't talk about.

        The issue is that there's a lot of moving pieces and its not something you can lay at Rometty's feet. There are many others and its throughout all levels of the biz.

        There's more to this than most here know.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Really?

          Hi Ginny!

          Are you still trying to pedal that bullshit line about reforming and shedding crocodile tears about the job losses? “Boo-hoo, no-one else comprehends the big picture”.

          That would be a hell of a lot more believable if you gave up your bonuses and your big fat salary. After all, your plan will work so that would be a risk free option.

          You’re just taking as much as you can and hoping to get a single quarter with increased revenue to trigger a massive bonus payout and then quit. And you don’t give a flying fuck about the 100,000s that you put out of work in the process. Just as long as you get your cash, that’s ok.

          Awa and bile yer head, ye fucknugget.

  3. spold Silver badge

    "terminations and the erosion of existing contracts continuing to challenge us" - d'ya think this could possibly be due to the increasingly crap delivery of services exported to Outer Mongolian trainee yak herders? Latest in the ongoing line of Imminent Blue Massacres....

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "As we move into 2018, Global Technology Services IS Delivery continues to be challenged by our margin improvement target, with our current trajectory not showing the growth we need, as well as client terminations and the erosion of existing contracts continuing to challenge us."

    And why do you think that is?

    1. Ian Michael Gumby
      Boffin

      @AC

      The Death spiral started long ago.

      You can blame IBM, but you also have to blame the customer who keeps wanted things cheaper and bringing in offshore resources is one way. You can blame the book keepers who don't understand that not everybody is at the same level. Employees are not cogs.

      The way to save IBM is to create wholly owned subsidiaries that are funded by IBM but do not share the same culture and bean counter demands.

      IBM has the cash to make things happen. Only the brand is tarnished and management is not prepared to adapt and compete.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: @AC

        I know a company that keeps spinning off sections of what amounts to its core functionalities. There goal is to reduce employee salaries and pension liabilities. So, the spin off and cost reductions they get right, but provide no real training to the new employees and the workforce turnover is much, much higher. It won't be many years before the required records...well, you all can figure that out.

  5. Sweeping Brush

    Serious question

    "As revealed a fortnight ago, IBM told staffers in both business units to form Employee Consultation Committees (ECC)"

    Am I reading correctly that people are being told to form their own committees to consult on their own redundancies?

    Surely its the job of HR to form the committee to answer the employee's questions?

    Also, if employee's are being told to do their own consultations, if they don't form a committee at all does that mean that IBM would then be in contravention of employment law if they made someone redundant who did not have a chance to consult?

    I'm geniunely interested to know as when it happened to us it was HR who had to go around and have individual consultations with everyone at risk.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Serious question

      It's a basic requirement of the law that representatives from the workforce must be chosen. They have no power to dictate what actually happens. It's IBM providing the bare minimum for what is required.

      Those who volunteer don't have to accept the offer that they are given, but if it goes to involuntary, they have no choice other than the basic package dictated by UK employment law.

      All IBM have to do is prove that the position is now redundant. The fact that the same position is up for grabs in a remote location is irrelevant, as is the fact that that remote person will be doing UK work. And that's what's really wrong with employment law. And it's only going to get worse.

    2. John Styles

      Re: Serious question

      https://www.gov.uk/staff-redundant/redundancy-consultations

      See the bit about 'Consult with trade union representatives or elected employee representatives - or with staff directly if there are none.' i.e. you get the staff to elect committees and consult with them.

    3. The Force

      Re: Serious question

      It is mostly a box ticking exercise to comply with the law. Those that join do not change the outcome an most of the relevant questions asked get a stock answer and do not get properly answered. I jumped soon after seeing multiple of these the last few when they started to bring in Statutory Minimum, voluntary or involuntary.

      In days gone by Voluntary got a better deal to entice, but no more. They are now culling the people that as few years ago were the Valued Employees that those who scored less on the Bean Counters Spreadsheets walked away with bigger payments back then.

      Its all about the greedy at the top lining their pockets before they clear off leaving the company in the mire, bonus today.....nothing left of the company for tomorrow.

  6. John Styles

    Am I alone in being irked and slightly nonplussed that IBM are using the word 'cognitive' for something completely different from what the word actually means, i.e. they are using it meaning 'our mish-mash of AI related technologies' ?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      It's marketing spin and there's an IBM policy to attach it to everything they do.

      For example, with their monitoring software, if something looks like it's gong to break, it will send you an alert. This of course is nothing new, but while most of us would simply call it preventative maintenance, IBM chooses to label it "cognitive", because this fits in with the policies of the International Bullshit Machine.

      This is nothing new for IBM. Every hardware product containing software was relabeled "software-defined", anything remotely related to virtualisation was called "cloud".

      It was a lot easier in the 90s when all they had to do was put an "e" in front of everything.

  7. John 104
    Terminator

    (1) "As IBM transforms into the premier cognitive computing and cloud platform company, we continue to remix our skills and invest in these priority areas. "

    What a laugh. If IBM were the premier cognitive computing and cloud company they wish they were, they wouldn't be having mass layoffs. If they were even on track to be a contender, they wouldn't be having mass layoffs. And the fact that they continue to lay off and outsource IT roles should be an indicator to anyone interested in hosted compute to look elsewhere. I can think of 3 more reliable companies that are doing a bang up job of it these days...

    (2) IBM does this in each market in which we operate, adapting to meet local client needs. Our clients expect no less.

    Your clients expect a reliable business partner who has the technical expertise to meet their needs. Only the most established crony business partners would keep contracts with IBM at this point. Asking them to implement, support, and maintain a workflow for new business would be business suicide.

    (3) IBM currently has about 25,000 job openings around the world for new skills in growth areas such as cloud, analytics, security, and social and mobile technologies

    What a snake oil statement this one is. Did they not just say that they are laying off higher paying workers so they can ship their support and such to low paying 2nd world countries?

    This downward spiral won't stop until there is almost nothing left of IBM. They can't make margin because they aren't relevant or because there is too much fat on their contracts and no one wants to pay it. They cut staffing costs to keep management in gold, meanwhile losing customers because they don't have the proper staff. Rinse repeat. It was a long run anyway. I see IBM going the way of Motorola. Someone will buy up all the IP and that will be the end of it.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Are IBM outsourcers or innovators?

      @john 104

      Is IBM an IT outsourcer or an innovative business solutions company with a history of building advanced bespoke solutions, custom big iron and overall advanced technology that wants to apply that advanced compute know how far and wide?

      Yes IBM are shedding staff involved in their outsourcing deals but everything they’re really known for is not outsourceing, supporting their own kit yes, but not supporting other peoples stuff. They realised in the 90’s that consulting is lucrative and financing customers solutions was better than leaving the money in their banks.

      Reducing head count isn’t nice but, understanding that head count reductions is coinciding with contracts not being renewed adds some context to it. Have IBM staff been offered TUPE to the companies that have taken their business away?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Are IBM outsourcers or innovators?

        @John 104, while I agree with you (and upvoted) I'm going to be a pedantic arse and point out that you've misused the term second world. The whole first, second, third world thing is a NATO term harking back to the cold war. Basically, the first world was NATO and its allies, the second world was the Soviet Union and its allies, and the third world was everyone else.

        The third world tended to include developing nations and so its meaning morphed to mean that. It's less used now and those countries tend to fall into the undeveloped or developing categories, the latter being the target for IBM.

        @ the other A/C, I believe the target for the chop is mainly ITS. I once worked there and they provide services engagements for end users. Some may be IBM outsourced accounts and others are directly paying customers who manage their own kit. They tended to be IBM customers though.

        The problem is, as fewer people buy IBM, there is less scope for work. As more skilled people leave, there's less ability to deliver. As those who are left are ground into the ground, there's less willing to do a decent job. It's a downwards spiral.

        1. John 104

          Re: Are IBM outsourcers or innovators?

          @ AC pedantic.

          You know, I struggled with how to phrase that. I always thought of 1st world as Western civilization, including Russia, as they have been a developed country for quite some time. 2nd world as places like India or China, etc, where the economy was modern but quality of life was lower when compared to more developed nations. 3rd for the rest. Probably a pretty narrow and uninformed view. Thanks for the clarification!

      2. John 104

        Re: Are IBM outsourcers or innovators?

        @AC

        IBM WAS an innovative business solutions company. One that charged a ton of money for their solutions. But customers obviously don't need those solutions as much as they used to. Otherwise, IBM wouldn't be trying to make it in the cloud compute space, and they wouldn't be in such a panic to stay afloat. Small layoffs are part of any business. But how many tens of thousands of people have they laid off in the last 24 months?

        Computing has changed and they didn't see the change fast enough and are getting buried as a result.

  8. trevorde Silver badge

    Motivation

    "Staff will be expected to work three months' notice."

    I can really see some quality work being done in that time. What are they going to do? Sack you?

    1. PyroBrit

      Optional

      Yes I guess they could sack you and you lose your redundancy package.

      1. earl grey
        Mushroom

        Re: Optional

        Yes, lose your redundancy package.

        Oh, you mean getting buggered every day until you go out the door?

        1. BebopWeBop Silver badge
          Trollface

          Re: Optional

          Just work competently - and strictly to your contact - difficult and tedious to try to sack you. Alternatively, while training up your replacement in India (or wherever), some subtle misdirection, recommendations might go a long way to making you feel better without overtly demonstrating anything but honest effort (but XXX version Y really is the one you need to get up to speed on)

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Optional

            That's assuming your offshore replacement even shows up to be trained or even hired before you are 'Resource Actioned'.

            I've encountered a few cases where an outgoing local has told me their replacement didn't join them for training as it wasn't during Indian core hours and therefore not convenient. In more than one occasion the offshore body has asked the outgoing local to record a video training session and save it on a shared drive on a customer's server

            On other occasions the local has left and the new offshore resource wasn't hired before they were RA'd and come in with no clue and start asking random locals for help.

            Then there is the case where you provide full, extensive training, get RA'd and then the offshore resource blames the now departed local for not providing Knowledge Transfer... We still had this excuse used 5 years after an entire subset of work was offshored to India and had been managed by them during that time.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Motivation

      >"Staff will be expected to work three months' notice."

      If you were on your 3 month notice and bagged another role, would anyone really bother turning up again?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Motivation

        for 15k? Yes you would.

  9. IGnatius T Foobar

    India Business Machines?

    Weren't they some sort of technology company back in the 20th century?

  10. IGnatius T Foobar
    FAIL

    I hope I live to see this happen to Microsoft

    So far, Microsoft has followed perfectly in IBM's footsteps. I hope I live to see the day Microsoft experiences the kind of death spiral IBM is now in.

    1. AndrueC Silver badge
      Mushroom

      Re: I hope I live to see this happen to Microsoft

      I hope I live to see the day Microsoft experiences the kind of death spiral IBM is now in.

      You take pleasure in hearing about hundreds or even thousands of people losing their jobs? You don't sound like a very nice person.

    2. GruntyMcPugh

      Re: I hope I live to see this happen to Microsoft

      Eh? Microsoft haven't ever had the hardware catalogue that IBM had, and don't do outsourcing. They are nothing like IBM, so aren't following in IBMs footsteps at all.

  11. earl grey
    Flame

    "drive a series of accelerated..."

    Yeah, well they're driving something; but it's pointed, barbed, and very abrasive and i can tell you where it's going.

  12. Cheesemouse

    Here we go again

    It's party time in Uttar Pradesh. We still haven't cottoned on to the rip off that's taking place, Just as it happened to Perot Systems and many others. The Indian outsourcers come in at a high level, place their family/friends /regional contacts in high positions. Then get rid of the local staff, farm everything out to India and declare a return to profitability (because of a reduced wage bill) and once there is nothing left of the operation because of catastrophically bad service it's off to the next target. When will we ever learn?

  13. David 132 Silver badge
    Thumb Down

    Lies, damn lies and PR quotes

    " IBM currently has about 25,000 job openings around the world"

    Translation: 1 security guard job in Hursley to prevent looting of the empty building, and 24,999 "service delivery specialist" jobs in Bangalore/Lagos/Ho Chi Minh City.

  14. mako23

    This is a completely classless act, how to make every employee have a rotten Christmas.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Incompetent Bastard Managers

    Its not the frontline workforce that is responsible for the shambolic state of IBM's consistently declining revenue sheet, but guess where the headcount axe will be doing most of its work?

    Its about time the senior managers - the ones who dictate company policy, strategy and direction - took responsibility for this sad state they've driven the company to. The headcount axe would be far more productively employed in the upper half of the company and leave the bottom half alone. After all, its the bottom half that do the actual revenue generating work. The top half just try to figure out how to pay themselves more money and come up with new badly thought out strategies and buzzwords to try to make the company sound more hip and trendy.

    Just after the "you're all in for another round of misery" emails came out, there was another "organizational announcement" that saw 9 new senior management 'jobs for the boys' called "Global Service Owner" posts. This just shows senior managements utter contempt for the workforce. Just as one third of us are about to be shoved out the door, they're feathering their own nests and rubbing our noses in it.

  16. exibmboy

    As usual IBM attack the hardworking staff who have made their business!!! They claim poverty to pay statutory minimum whilst their chief executive gets multi million dollar bonuses in the states!!! One of my friends missed out on 15 years worth of service payments when they made her redundant!!! I'm glad I got out 12 years ago when I got something half decent!!

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    If I was still at IBM I'd be seriously tempted to write a script to trawl bluepages and then publish what's actually left.

    If anyone still there who fancies something useful to do in their remaining few weeks, please do.

  18. GruntyMcPugh

    On another thread about this I questioned why anyone would take VR when it's a stat min offering. Now I've seen the numbers I don't think anyone would want to remain. If your accounts are in the green now, be prepared to be handed a bag of poo and be expected to fix what's gone wrong once the talent has left. It's going to be a horror show.

  19. Glorifindal

    "My friend" has been there less than a year - so there will be no redundancy payment for him. He did tell me that he would not be working his 3 months notice though ... not sure how he will get round that.

    What are IBM like when trying to force the mandatory 3 months ? Is it even possible to force it ?

    1. GruntyMcPugh

      3 months,....

      ... apols for the late response, you aren't usually expected to work the 3 months, but will get paid in lieu of notice. Last thing they want are disgruntled employees having a 'Last Hurrah', and throwing a logic spanner in the works. So your mate should get a (taxable) bung equivalent to the remainder of three months notice and leave on the 5th of the next month. (tomorrow?)

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    WHY does Gini still remain as CEO ?

    .... 20 quarters decline... has no one got the b*lls to ask her to step down and stop destroying IBM and its reputation.

    It just doesnt make sense any more... apart from decimating a once proud company. No one knows what IBM does any more, no body respects them... they clearly have no respect for staff... the axe comes every time there is a holiday. with a pathetic ECC which pays lip service to the law..and then drags employees through months of hell...then says bye bye...but work three months!!!!!!

    I got the push after 25 years with a pittance pay out. I dont care any more for the way I was treated...what I do care for is my colleagues left behind and my pension..... (no doubt thats been raided for some activity)

    Gini should be publicly ashamed of herself.... ruined IBM and doesn't give a damn... SHAME on you... TW Jr and TW would be appalled by your lack of business behaviour - nothing I see coming out of IBM makes me...or my new company worried...as none of my customers will go near them!

    Big Blue ...toilet cleaner isnt it?

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