IBM Rolls Out New Job-Cutting Plan In The Netherlands



According to a leaked company memo, IBM is imposing involuntary job cuts in the Netherlands for the first time. Does the move serve as a template for Big Blue to impose forced layoffs in regions where local labor laws have made it difficult to impose mandatory cuts?

IBM issued a company memo this week stating it would institute involuntary job cuts for the first time in the Netherlands, adopting a new and permanent workforce reduction strategy in the region. The effects could be far reaching.

Lee Conrad, a former IBM employee who oversees Watching IBM, a Facebook page that tracks Big Blue's workforce cuts, told InformationWeek the move may serve as a template for Big Blue to impose forced layoffs in regions where local labor laws have made it difficult to impose mandatory cuts. IBM Netherlands, for example, previously was only subject to voluntary job cuts, according to Conrad.

"In many of the European countries, the cuts historically have been voluntary. This is because of the existence of works councils and unions inside IBM. Labor laws are also more favorable to workers," said Conrad, who previously oversaw the now defunct union organizing effort called Alliance@IBM.

He added IBM's effort to spread this practice across Europe and other regions will likely increase.

"IBM wants to rid itself of more employees than will volunteer to leave," Conrad said in our interview. "IBM also wants to terminate workers in selective areas and not rely on volunteers. IBM is also shedding business units in countries like Germany and Italy and either selling them to other companies or moving them to low-cost countries like India or countries in Eastern Europe."

An IBM spokesman, while not specifically addressing the job cuts in the Netherlands, told InformationWeek, "As reported earlier this year, IBM is transforming its business to lead in a new era of cognitive and cloud computing. To this end, IBM currently has more than 25,000 open positions, many in these key skills areas. If IBM meets its hiring goals, we expect to end the year with around the same number of employees [as] at (year-end) 2015."

IBM had 377,757 employees at the end of 2015, according to its annual filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. That is down from the 379,592 employees it had in 2014, according to its SEC filing.

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