Union warns of second round of 'massive' layoffs at IBM in Europe

Council cheesed off by involuntary redundancies and absolute minimum payouts

IBM staffers in Europe face another wave of deep cuts, according to a top union official.

Marc Born, secretary of Big Blue's European Works Council, has warned a "second massive restructuring" effort at the company will kick off in 2016. This comes six weeks after the IT giant announced a round of layoffs in late January – its favorite time of the year for making cuts. European Works Councils are bodies that represent and inform the workforce in large businesses operating in the EU.

"The total foreseen headcount impact of this second reduction is almost 50 per cent higher than the first round of job cuts," said Born.

"The combined impact of both restructuring actions varies by country, but primarily western European countries are confronted with reductions which sometimes exceed 10 per cent to 15 per cent of current staff."

One analyst house believes as many as 14,000 IBMers worldwide could be shed by the summer.

The council is also, we're told, upset that most of the looming cuts are involuntary, and that workers will be given the legal minimum in redundancy payouts and the absolute minimum notice periods.

As we reported last week, staff in the UK, where hundreds face the chop, were furious at being offered the statutory minimum: workers aged under 22 will get half a week’s salary for every full year of service; staff aged 22 to 41 will get one week for every full year worked, and those over 41 will get one and a half weeks' for every year at the biz. The length of service is capped at 20 years, weekly salary at £475, and the maximum payment is £14,250.

"The involuntary approach triggers extremely negative sentiments, unrest, stress and disengagement amongst the European workforce," said Born.

"The [council] believes that IBMers should leave the company as ambassadors, not as opponents or enemies. The [council] can never accept involuntary approaches around Europe and strongly opposes this way of rebalancing resources."

IBM employed 380,000 people worldwide at the end of 2015; about 70,000 people left the biz that year and it added 70,000 to its ranks through acquisitions, hiring and offshoring. Up to four out of five jobs in IBM's Global Technology Services workforce will be off-shored by 2017; a trend we can see playing out across the company.

A spokesperson at the US biz's corporate headquarters was not available for comment at time of writing, however a Big Blue spokesman told us in early March: "IBM is aggressively transforming its business to lead in a new era of cognitive and cloud computing." ®

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