IBM confirms Canadian layoffs

Despite releasing stronger than expected earnings on Tuesday and at the time expressing optimism for 2009, a round of job cuts is underway at IBM Corp. and it looks like Big Blue’s Canadian operations have not been spared.

The week has already seen heavy layoffs in the IT sector, including 5,000 at Microsoft and another 5,000 to 6,000 at Intel. Thus far, while IBM has yet to comment publicly on any layoffs or specific numbers, the Internet is rife with reports from allegedly laid-off IBMers.

According to Alliance@IBM, a Web site created by a local of the Communications Workers of America union, which is trying to organize IBM workers, the software group appears to be bearing the brunt of the cuts, with 1,419 cuts reported, along with another 1,499 jobs lost in sales and distribution.

In a message board on the Web site, posts allegedly from laid-off IBM workers indicate a number of the layoffs are occurring at IBM’s software lab in Toronto, which celebrated its 40th anniversary in 2007.

IBM Canada spokesman Mike Boden confirmed on Friday to ComputerWorld Canada that a round of layoffs is underway at IBM, including at IBM Canada. According to Boden, no exact numbers on the scope of the cuts are being released at this time.

“We’re not releasing numbers by site,” said Boden. “There’s no single area being targeted. As part of ongoing business operations at IBM we’re trying to manage the resources and skills we have so we’re ready and able to meet current and future client needs.”

Boden said some of the impacted employees will be able to find other positions within the company, adding IBM Canada is working with them to look for other internal opportunities.

“The (recent financial results) were good, but this is just part of IBM’s continuing efforts to manage the resources we have and ensure the resources we have are aligned to client needs now and in the future,” said Boden.

The Alliance@IBM Web site has been buzzing with job-cut rumours since the beginning of the year.

One message stated that IBM would announce 16,000 layoffs on Jan. 23, affecting workers worldwide. Similar predictions are made in other recent posts on the site.

A number of messages state that IBM’s semiconductor plant in Burlington, Vt., may be particularly hard hit.

IBM has more than 386,000 employees worldwide, according to its Web site. If the rumoured 16,000 figure proves accurate, then, it would equal roughly a four per cent reduction in headcount.

— With files from Chris Kanaracus, IDG News Service (Boston Bureau)

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Jeff Jedras
Jeff Jedras
As an assistant editor at IT World Canada, Jeff Jedras contributes primarily to CDN and, covering the reseller channel and the small and medium-sized business space.

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