More IBM workers lose jobs

IBM Corp. officials Friday confirmed that an undisclosed number of employees were laid off this week in its global services and software divisions, following the layoffs of at least 747 workers the week before. But while IBM refused to say exactly how many new job cuts were made, the Alliance@IBM, a group which has been working for three years to unionize nonmanagement workers at IBM, estimated that this week’s layoffs affect another 2,347 employees throughout the company.

Jan Butler, a spokeswoman for IBM’s server group, said total job cut numbers aren’t being disclosed because they’re being made on a facility-by-facility basis and aren’t part of a companywide action. “We’re not obligated to present a number,” Butler said.

James Sciales, a spokesman for IBM’s global services group, said an unspecified number of workers were laid off Wednesday as part of a re-evaluation of needed skills among workers. “There’s a natural ebb and flow of people and skills in the services business, ” he said. The division includes about 150,000 of the company’s 320,000 employees worldwide and accounted for about 41 percent, or US$35 billion, of IBM’s revenue last year, he said.

Meanwhile, Tim Breuer, a spokesman for IBM’s software group, confirmed an undisclosed number of layoffs among the company’s 34,000 software group workers.

Lee Conrad, the national coordinator for the union efforts at the Alliance@IBM, said information gathered from documents issued by IBM to laid-off workers shows that the number of layoffs this week totals at least 2,347. According to the documents, which list the ages and job titles of laid-off workers in each affected facility or division, some 2,000 global services workers lost their jobs this week, as well as about 364 workers in IBM’s headquarters.

“We are still collecting data on the number of job cuts,” Conrad said. “[IBM’s] got [the numbers]. They’re just not saying.”

Last week, IBM confirmed 747 layoffs at four facilities, but the alliance estimated that at least 1,832 workers lost their jobs based on documents from laid-off workers.

The total layoffs estimated by the union over the last two weeks now stand at 4,179, according to the group’s Web site. The new total includes an estimated 1,009 workers in the server division, 707 in the software group, 99 last week in global financing, 2,000 this week in global services and 364 at corporate headquarters.

The numbers provided by the alliance are not necessarily accurate, according to IBM’s Butler, but the company won’t issue numbers of its own. “The unions are not [going] to write the rules on how we do this,” she said.

Earlier this month, IBM confirmed that layoffs were coming and could affect as many as 9,600 workers due to weaker-than-expected revenue and a significant drop in net income last month. Samuel Palmisano, IBM’s president and CEO, has recently pointed to the need for cost-cutting moves at the company.

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