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IBM Says 'Couldn't Fire 150K US Workers If We Wanted To' 219

Posted by Zonk
from the big-blue-responds dept.
theodp writes "In an e-mail worthy of the Dilbert Hall of Fame, IBM execs responded to Robert X. Cringely's Project LEAN layoff rumors, reassuring employees by pointing out that they've already wiped out too many U.S. jobs to be able to lay off another 150,000. Big Blue's employment peaked around 1985, when it had about 405,000 workers who were acclimated to a long tradition of lifetime employment. IBM puts its current global workforce at 355,766, with a 'regular U.S. population' of less than 130,000."
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IBM Says 'Couldn't Fire 150K US Workers If We Wanted To'

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 13, 2007 @01:40PM (#19104991)
    Silly Cringley! We're Hiring negative 20 thousand employees!
  • Duh (Score:5, Insightful)

    by daeg (828071) on Sunday May 13, 2007 @01:40PM (#19105001)
    Is this evidence enough that Cringley's stuff can never appear on Slashdot ever again? He's a complete hack of a "journalist". I'd rather see blogs written by 12-year-olds than "articles" by Cringley.

    I'm ashamed that he is funded in part by non-profit funds from US taxpayers and makes a bad name for PBS in general.
    • Re:Duh (Score:5, Interesting)

      by nacturation (646836) <nacturation@ g m a i l . c om> on Sunday May 13, 2007 @01:45PM (#19105047) Journal

      Is this evidence enough that Cringley's stuff can never appear on Slashdot ever again? He's a complete hack of a "journalist". I'd rather see blogs written by 12-year-olds than "articles" by Cringley.
      Looks like he's taken a page from Dvorak [youtube.com]. First, incite them with a ridiculous story which generates tons of traffic. Then, post a follow-up explaining how they mischaracterized what he wrote. Rinse and repeat.
       
      • Re:Duh (Score:4, Informative)

        by Caradoc (15903) on Sunday May 13, 2007 @02:23PM (#19105333) Homepage
        I don't see how IBM could fire 150,000 regular employees.

        I can easily see how they could dump that many combined regulars, long-term supplementals, and contractors.
      • "Want to improve your Karma? Instead of "Post Anonymously", try the "Post Humously" option."

        "Humously"?

        Typo or attempt at humor? Okay, kill my karma for being a spelling Nazi...
    • Re:Duh (Score:5, Informative)

      by daeg (828071) on Sunday May 13, 2007 @01:56PM (#19105131)
      As a follow up, PBS has an internal, independent ombudsman. You can contact the current ombudsman, Michael Getler, at pbs.org [pbs.org] or call him at 703-739-5290. You can also find and contact your local PBS member station [pbs.org] as they control your local content schedule. The less stations that maintain Cringley programming, the less likely it is that PBS will retain him, and the less relevant he becomes.
    • Re:Duh (Score:5, Informative)

      by Amiga Trombone (592952) on Sunday May 13, 2007 @01:56PM (#19105133)
      I have no problem with Cringley being called a hack. But like the old saying goes, even a stopped clock is right twice a day. Whether or not he's got his numbers exactly right, if you've got any doubt there are massive layoffs occuring at IBM, read the comments attached to Cringley's articles:

      http://www.pbs.org/cringely/pulpit/2007/pulpit_200 70504_002027_comments.html [pbs.org]
      http://www.pbs.org/cringely/pulpit/2007/pulpit_200 70511_002058_comments.html [pbs.org]

      Not to mention reports from other IBMers here:

      http://www.allianceibm.org/jobcutstatusandcomments .php [allianceibm.org]

      Also, consider that IBM's employee headcount doesn't include contractors. I don't know how much including them would effect the headcount, but it's certainly by a substantial amount.

      Being an idiot doesn't necessarily preclude his occasionally being somewhere in the ballpark of the truth.

      • Re:Duh (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Tablizer (95088) on Sunday May 13, 2007 @02:09PM (#19105243) Homepage Journal
        Whether or not he's got his numbers exactly right, if you've got any doubt there are massive layoffs occuring at IBM...

        It appears IBM didn't dispute claims of mass layoffs either. They only discounted Cringley's numbers. IBM seems to be using Cringley's number problem as a red herring agaist the existence of coming layoffs.
                 
        • by smallpaul (65919)

          It appears IBM didn't dispute claims of mass layoffs either. They only discounted Cringley's numbers. IBM seems to be using Cringley's number problem as a red herring agaist the existence of coming layoffs.

          I don't really think that it is IBM's responsibility to tie their hands by promising this or that. If Cringley is wrong on the most notable and falsifiable fact of the matter then why should we believe he is right on anything?

        • IBM seems to be using Cringley's number problem as a red herring agaist the existence of coming layoffs.

          Right. They limited it by comparing to current US regulars (130,000), but Cringely was talking worldwide and said it is also impacting contractors. And he also acknowledged it's not imminent, but a steadily continuing action.

          Anyone should know the numbers are only speculation based on whatever can be gleaned from IBM's actions. It is a not unreasonable number as
      • Re:Duh (Score:4, Insightful)

        by evilviper (135110) on Sunday May 13, 2007 @02:17PM (#19105297) Journal

        Being an idiot doesn't necessarily preclude his occasionally being somewhere in the ballpark of the truth.

        No, but what's the good of the analogous "stopped-clock" that is wrong most of the time? You certainly can't depend on it, so even if occasionally correct, you have no way of knowing that until after the fact, so it's completely worthless.
      • As an IBMer... (Score:2, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward
        ...I do know that some American jobs are currently being moved to India. I also know that some Indian jobs are currently being moved to the states. In an industry like this, nothing stays the same for long, and things are always being moved around. A prediction like 'IBM is going to move around some jobs around' is too vague to be meaningful. And one that says they are going to move overseas more jobs than they currently have is too dumb to be worth repeating.
      • by Yetihehe (971185)
        So if we stop him doing his "journalism" he actually WILL be right two times a day? That's win for everyone.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by alshithead (981606)
        "Also, consider that IBM's employee headcount doesn't include contractors. I don't know how much including them would effect the headcount, but it's certainly by a substantial amount."

        Earlier this year I had my contract with a major bank based out of Charlotte cancelled. My boss was very sorry but as she said, "they do this every year in January or February". Hundreds, if not thousands of contract and full time employees across the world ditched every year...at the beginning of the year. They hire a lot
    • Re:Duh (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Moraelin (679338) on Sunday May 13, 2007 @02:04PM (#19105205) Journal
      One can only wish, but I wouldn't hold my breath. After all, we still see Dvorak drivel making the front page. One would have thought that after the "my idle process is hogging 95% of the CPU cycles" whine, that would have been the last any tech-savvy site ever links to Dvorak, right? Well, dream on.

      TBH, though, much as Cringely _is_ just a hack, I'd rather /. gave up on the whole class of "computer pundits" entirely. It's an easy job, and it's really about entertainment not computer expertise, ok? It's just a glorified SF version of the astrology columns in some newspapers. It just requires a thick enough skin to pretend it never happened, or that you were misunderstood, when 99% of the predictions don't come to pass. Better yet, phrase your predictions in a way that (A) gives them a time or an event, but never both, so it can't really be disproved, and (B) in the tried and tested "why X should do Y" way, so if it doesn't happen, it's obviously only because X is more stupid than you.

      Briefly, it's not just about Cringely, but the whole caste is little more than a bunch of entertainers, and not one iota more reliable than astrologers. Linking to any of them, not just Cringely, as if they actually predicted something about to happen, is akin to linking to an astrology site. "The great Mr Psychic says this is your lucky day, go do an interview for a job if you're a Capricorn. [Read more...]" No more, and no less.
      • by kimvette (919543)

        One would have thought that after the "my idle process is hogging 95% of the CPU cycles" whine, that would have been the last any tech-savvy site ever links to Dvorak, right?


        Did Dvorak really write that? Come on, if he did, it HAD to be tongue-in-cheek.
        • by Moraelin (679338) on Sunday May 13, 2007 @03:37PM (#19105807) Journal
          Sadly, he did write that, and no, it doesn't look tongue in cheek at all. Catch: XP Decay [pcmag.com].

          Genuine quote from the great pundit: "When I hit Ctrl-Alt-Delete, I see that the System Idle Process is hogging all the resources and chewing up 95 percent of the processor's cycles. Doing what? Doing nothing?"

          I've read the article again, just in case there might be some subtle sarcasm I've missed before, but it looks as serious as it gets, if anyone asks me.

          The whole list is framed between:

          - "This week's column is about exploring the commonly observed problems that crop up with each new release. Maybe Microsoft should patch the patches once in a while. Here are a few of my gripes - most of them a result of excessive patching." which doesn't really sound like the start of a joke, and

          - "And please, will the characters who "have never had a crash or blip" in 10 years of "heavy use" not contribute. I'm sick of these people. They're full of it." Which, again, would indicate that not only he's not joking, but he thinks that anyone who hasn't had those newbie problems is, in his own words, "full of it."

          Speaking of which, the rest of the complaints sound... shall we say, computer illiterate. And that's putting it mildly. He sounds like the average Uncle Osric or Aunt Emma, who are terminally stumped as to why would their computer suddenly be sluggish or takes a while to connect on the network. It must be all those MS patches, really. Not like the kind of expert who fixes such things for fun, and/or knows exactly what worm was hogging the network.

          Believe me, I've tried finding some trace of tongue-in-cheek irony there. I've hoped it would be an April 1st article. Nope.

          But, hey, judge it for yourself. If you can detect some trace of sarcasm there, please tell me.
          • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

            by MythMoth (73648)
            I read it. You're humour impaired.

            He's saying it makes no sense for the machine to be non-responsive when allegedly "idle".
            • by Moraelin (679338)
              Again, here are his exact words: "When I hit Ctrl-Alt-Delete, I see that the System Idle Process is hogging all the resources and chewing up 95 percent of the processor's cycles."

              He's _not_ phrasing it as "the system is 95% idle, therefore it has no excuse to lag". He's phrasing it as the idle process "hogging all the resources" and "chewing up 95 percent of the processor's cycles." That's a pretty dumb way to describe it any way I want to look at it. Even as an attempt at humour, it's as dumb as it gets, a
          • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

            by jasontheking (124650)
            - "And please, will the characters who "have never had a crash or blip" in 10 years of "heavy use" not contribute. I'm sick of these people. They're full of it." Which, again, would indicate that not only he's not joking, but he thinks that anyone who hasn't had those newbie problems is, in his own words, "full of it."

            Dvorak certainly deserves to be ignored. But the above quote that he made certainly had an effect. I can remember the above statements (using phrases like "heavy use") being made by a huge

      • Everything in the media is driven by its ability to attract eyeballs. Eyeballs == paying viewers/readers and advertising dollars. This means that accuracy is very low in priority and entertainment value is much higher. Even "hard news" and photos (The camera can't lie, but zooming and cropping can) gets spun to be more dramatic/whatever to attract those eyeballs.

        Boring but technically correct writers will not attract eyeballs and will not get published.

        • Well, sorta yes and no.

          The yes part is: I can aggree with all you wrote there. It's common sense, really.

          The no part is: well, that was not really my gripe. Maybe I didn't explain it well enough.

          My gripe is with people who should know better, but are taking such entertainers as the new Oracle Of Delphi, and their words as 100% accurate prediction to go by. Cringely said that Intel will buy Apple? It must be as good as an Intel press release. Cringely said that IBM will fire 150,000 out of 130,000 US jobs? I
    • by epine (68316)

      I enjoy many of Cringley's articles. I think the people who get most hot and bothered by Cringely, the Inquirer, and the Wikipedia are not managing to notice how much everyday life is an equal crock. Dvorack is a different kettle of fermented anchovies. His average column has me contemplating whether my thumbs fit into my eye sockets.

      This particular retort by Cringley has a weasel-factor to make even Dvorack blush. It's like an engineer saying oops, I didn't mean watts, I meant watt-hours, but that does
  • Yep sure did. Including my job to cheap out sourced labor at $16hr to people who know absolutely nothing about computers. Thanks IBM... morons.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Falladir (1026636)
      I hope you realize that there's a catch-22 preventing me from sympathizing with you, because it's impossible for IBM to have victimized you without repercussion. If IBM was wrong to let you go (i.e. if the $16/hour guy does a lousy job) then they'll hurt for it (a repercussion). If they were right to let you go, and your job can be done for $16/hour, then they haven't victimized you, they've just been responded to a force in the market.

      That said, I hope you find a good new job, and I hope they didn't t
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Tablizer (95088)
        then they haven't victimized you, they've just been responded to a force in the market.

        These are not mutually exclusive. Our huge trade deficit is a political issue created by international corporations who want to do things their way and hire top lobbyists to get it. The huge trade deficit is not good for Americans, but the international corporations don't give a sh8t.

        (By the way, maybe IBM hired 2 guys at $14/hr to do the job of one American at $30. Even if the replacement is lousy, they get an extra on
    • by partenon (749418) *
      "Know absolutely nothing about computers"... Dude, you are wrong... Not to be rude, but with US$ 16hr you can hire an architect in India which probably knows more than you :-)
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 13, 2007 @01:54PM (#19105119)
    Recently IBM Global Services has been fighing for its life on many fronts especially when they are competing with IBM Partners.
    It used to be the case that the Sales Execs didn't care where the revenue comes from. Partner or GS it didn;t matter. Now GS is walking all over Partners in attemts to wrest business away from partners and as a consequence several partners I work with are getting right pissed off.
    Once the quote/order info get put onto the Internal Siebel System, it becomes visible to GS who then walk mob handed into the Parner and take the biz away from the partner.

    I see this as a last ditch attempt to save their jobs. Therefore IMHO a reduction in GS headcount is long overdue.
    There are a lot of really good people in GS but the metrics in which they are having to work are awful. Many are good ones voting with their feet leaving the dross.
    This ends up with the customers suffering as the people left in GS to actually deliver the solution can't.

    This is nothing new. I saw this 10+ years go in DEC with their services division. It got even worse when Compaq came in a bought the show. Try fitting a services business model into a volume PC business model. They just don't fit.

    Just my 2$ worth.
  • by ebcdic (39948) on Sunday May 13, 2007 @01:56PM (#19105143)
    ... because it shows that Cringely's claim is not based on real IBM figures.
  • by Colin Smith (2679) on Sunday May 13, 2007 @02:01PM (#19105183)
    Americans are getting poorer and cheaper. They're 25% cheaper than just a couple of years ago. The urgency to outsource to cost effective workforces is reducing.

     
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by RexRhino (769423)
      Americans are getting cheaper in the very very short term... but how are Americans poorer? Americans are consuming goods and services at record levels. American have far more goods and services today than they did in the 1950s, 1960s, 1970s. Home ownership is at an all time high. Unemployment is low.

      Are you using some wierd definition of "poor" that I don't understand?
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by ScrewMaster (602015)
        He probably means "level of disposable income", and we used to have a lot more of it than we do now. A lot of people are spending money that they shouldn't be spending in order to maintain whatever lifestyle to which they are accustomed. "Unemployment is low" is meaningless if you don't account for type of employment: the fact that more of us are gainfully employed in lower-level, lower-paying jobs is not good. A much better metric would be the level of personal savings, and that is not a pretty picture eit
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by RexRhino (769423)

          He probably means "level of disposable income", and we used to have a lot more of it than we do now.

          Consumption of goods and services in increasing. Clearly, people have much more disposable income now than they did in the past. Have you ever talked to people about what life was like in the 1950s, or 1960s? Chances are they didn't have 2 cars, a TV in every room, and didn't eat out 3 nights a week, like your typical middle class family now. The kids didn't have a bedroom filled with toys like they do now.

          "Unemployment is low" is meaningless if you don't account for type of employment: the fact that more of us are gainfully employed in lower-level, lower-paying jobs is not good.

          Are you telling me that a higher proportion of workers where educated professionals back in the 1950

          • Consumption of goods and services in increasing. Clearly, people have much more disposable income now than they did in the past. Have you ever talked to people about what life was like in the 1950s, or 1960s? Chances are they didn't have 2 cars, a TV in every room, and didn't eat out 3 nights a week, like your typical middle class family now. The kids didn't have a bedroom filled with toys like they do now.

            I want to look at this, let's see, where to begin.

            Consumption of goods and services in increasi

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by sgt_doom (655561)
        Americans are consuming goods and services at record levels.

        Actually, no. Plus, quality-made goods are becoming far scarcer - so that appliance that once lasted for 10 to 20 years, now usually lasts under 1 year - but costs the same or higher. Ditto services....

      • by arivanov (12034)
        Disposable income is actually decreasing in both US and UK. As you have correctly noted, people are buying more and more, but this by borrowing more and more. I do not know the exact US numbers, though I know that they are ahead of the UK on that one. AFAIK, the average unsecured debt per household is now approaching the average salary which is outright scary. All it takes is a percentage point or two of interest rate increase and this house of cards will go tits up.
        • by mikael (484)
          Very true, for every 0.5% increase in mortgage rates, the buy-to-let rents (student market) go up by around 50 pounds/month. And that simply gets passed onto student debt to be paid off some time in the distant future.
        • Disposable income is actually decreasing in both US and UK.

          Where do you get this data? I can find no actual evidence of this. The US Department of Commerce's Bureau of Economic Activity [bea.gov] says that disposable income has increased every year since 1990 (see here [bea.gov]).

          The rest of your post discusses the savings rate, but that is separate from disposable income. It is true that personal savings has declined in 2005 and 2006. My guess would be that the recent mortgage difficulties are a major factor behind that.

          T
  • by Ritorix (668826)
    IBM stock has reached a 52-week high and is set to go higher. After a quick look, it seems the job cuts are a balance vs their investments in future growth. Gotta have good quarters and making the Street happy.

    • IBM stock has reached a 52-week high and is set to go higher. After a quick look, it seems the job cuts are a balance vs their investments in future growth. Gotta have good quarters and making the Street happy.

      Um, look a little closer at those results for the quarter. They're largely the result of taking advantage of exchange rates due to a weak dollar. As per the stock price increase, that's largely due to raising the dividend to $.40 a share (from $.30), and announcing a massive stock buy back plan, both
  • Looks like IBM is getting some money from Amazon [blogs.com] (via thenewsroom) to settle some patent disputes, maybe they can hang on to a few of those employees after all....
  • by Angelwrath (125723) on Sunday May 13, 2007 @02:42PM (#19105447)
    I find it interesting that people have clung to the "US" bit so much that they feel the need to point out that IBM doesn't have 150k US employees, instead of pointing out that IBM does have well over 300,000 workers internationally, which is more relevant.

    I worked at Nortel Networks, a company that had 105k - 110k employees in 2001. In the first 4 months of 2001 the company fired 27k people. In the rest of the 8 months of the year, they fired another 26k people. They fired even more in 2002. Overall, the company fired 57,000 people, over half the company.

    IBM has 150k people to fire, and it can do so with ease. The "US" reference is irrelevant, since even 50,000 US workers would be a huge amount of people, but possible.

    As for Cringely, he isn't a journalist. He's never claimed to be one, and his 9 years of weekly articles speaks to this. Cringely is a tech insider and writer who writes about interesting topics, and wrote this article not to report it, but in the hopes that IBM employees, and the publicity his articles garner, could help to prevent IBM from making a mistake. And he is right to do so - at Nortel the CEO wiped out half the company and walked away with a 9-figure compensation for inducing mass unemployment and wiping out billions of value and spinoff value when the tech sector of the TSE crashed.

    The effects of 150k layoffs in the US would be very bad, and that's what he hopes to stop, because the way they do it is slow and steady, and if people don't figure it out ahead of time, they find out when it's too late. So in that respect, his article is very worthwhile and commendable.
    • by khallow (566160)

      As for Cringely, he isn't a journalist. He's never claimed to be one, and his 9 years of weekly articles speaks to this. Cringely is a tech insider and writer who writes about interesting topics, and wrote this article not to report it, but in the hopes that IBM employees, and the publicity his articles garner, could help to prevent IBM from making a mistake.

      Journalist in other words.
      • On occasion, Cringely is a journalist, yes. Maybe one in ten articles he writes is journalism, and to be fair his newer content is more journalistic because after 9 years, he has told many of his insider stories. But journalists are supposed to be impartial (no jokes about Fox News please), and Cringely never makes that claim, and reveals his opinions frequently. So I'd classify his stories more as op-ed at best.

        There are plenty of bloggers that write interesting stories that aren't accused of being journal
  • by Chas (5144)
    Just send a preemptive pink slip strike in on all the prospective employees.
  • by nwbvt (768631)

    That 130,000 number is total US employees. Cringely's previous estimate supposedly just included Global Services employees, which only represents a fraction of the total workforce. So if we assume half of all US IBM employees work for global services, that still means IBM needs to hire 85,000 new employees before his estimate is even mathematically possible.

    This whole thing reminds me of a scene from the South Park episode, "Two Days Before The Day After Tomorrow".

    Reporter: Tom, I'm currently ten miles outside of Beaverton, unable to get inside the town proper. We do not have any reports of fatalities yet, but we believe that the death toll may be in the hundreds of millions. Beaverton has only a population of about eight thousand, Tom, so this would be quite devastating.
    Anchor: Any word on how the survivors in the town are doing, Mitch?
    Reporter: We're not sure what exactly is going on inside the town of Beaverton, uh Tom, but we're reporting that there's looting, raping, and yes, even acts of cannibalism.
    Anchor: My God, you've, you've actually seen people looting, raping and eating each other?
    Reporter: No, no, we haven't actually seen it Tom, we're just reporting it.

    Isn't journalism so much more fun w

  • We said when we released 1Q results we would be putting in place a series of actions to address cost issues in our U.S. strategic outsourcing business. We have undertaken efforts toward that, and recently implemented a focused resource reduction in the U.S. While any such reduction is difficult for those employees affected, these actions are well within the scope of our ongoing workforce rebalancing efforts.

    I dunno, if I ever get "resource reduced" or "workforce balanced" I'll probably still feel like I
  • by hazem (472289) on Sunday May 13, 2007 @03:35PM (#19105791) Journal
    But has no idea what it's about.

    He wrote: It has to be since the very essence of LEAN is foreign hiring.

    LEAN http://www.lean.org/ [lean.org] has nothing to do with foreign hiring. It's a philosophy for process improvement that focuses on eliminating wastes in that process. Such wastes include: excess inventory, re-work, moving things around more than needed. It's about redesigning the process so that there is as little wasted effort and material as possible.

    LEAN is well-executed when the culture of a company is changed to empower workers to have more control over the way they do their work - and those employees are encouraged to find better ways to do what they do. For example, Toyota is often held up as a prime example of LEAN. There, an employee who finds a better way to improve a process is rewarded with cash bonuses.

    Now it may be that a company has hired a consultant to tell them do do layoffs and they call it LEAN, but that's not what it is.

    But, everyone here seems to be of the opinion that Cringley's full of shit. I'll have to agree.
    • > For example, Toyota is often held up as a prime example of LEAN.
      Let's See. Toyota did LEAN. Toyota doesn't treat their employees like crap. Therefore, IBM doesn't treat their employees like crap.

      No, I don't think that logic works.

      > But, everyone here seems to be of the opinion that Cringley's full of shit. I'll have to agree.
      Everyone? You don't speak for me, Buddy. Cringely has been around for a long time, does great PBS series and usually is insightful on his column. He's made some goofs over the y
      • by hazem (472289)
        Let's See. Toyota did LEAN. Toyota doesn't treat their employees like crap. Therefore, IBM doesn't treat their employees like crap.

        No, I don't think that logic works.


        I don't think you get what I'm saying. I'm not making that connection at all. And I'm not defending IBM.

        LEAN (when fully capitalized) is a very proper noun that represents a discipline, philosophy, methodology, and a way of working towards process improvement. While many believe it was "perfected" by the Japanese (and specifically at Toyota)
  • LEAN Methodology (Score:2, Informative)

    by pcardno (450934)
    I've never read Cringely's stuff before, but he does seem to have missed a key point in his article. He calls it "IBM's mysterious LEAN program" as if LEAN itself is the project. If you read the reply from IBM, they point out that they're using the LEAN methodology and not that this project is called LEAN. He also says that "the very essence of LEAN is foreign hiring", which is tripe.

    He's deliberately scaremongering by using the term out of context to suggest that it is the title of a project that's synonym
  • Orwell was right. The English language is dying. From IBM's e-mail:

    We said when we released 1Q results we would be putting in place a series of actions to address cost issues in our U.S. strategic outsourcing business. We have undertaken efforts toward that, and recently implemented a focused resource reduction in the U.S. While any such reduction is difficult for those employees affected, these actions are well within the scope of our ongoing workforce rebalancing efforts.

  • by bmo (77928) on Sunday May 13, 2007 @04:54PM (#19106407)
    Lean isn't mysterious. It's popular, especially in manufacturing.

    It ain't about laying off people. Not if you do it right.

    However, for many companies, it's a radical re-think of the corporate culture and hard to implement because far too many managers can't wrap their heads around some of the concepts and think it's just simpler to get rid of people. That's not Lean. That's just stupidity.

    --
    BMO - "I'm not anti-business. I'm anti stupidity" - Dilbert
  • Lifetime employment (Score:2, Interesting)

    by iminplaya (723125)
    Is there such a thing anymore in the US? Or did it all disappear with "trickle down"? Is it only in government where you can expect lifetime employment now? I had an Uncle who put in 40 years with the post office. Retired with 95% percent of his pay till he kicks the bucket. Does anybody know anybody who is still working a non government job with the same employer for over 20-25 years? Do they expect any retirement benefits? Will they be able to trust the company to come across with it?
  • by monoment (1003007) on Sunday May 13, 2007 @09:11PM (#19108055)
    The rumors about LEAN and layoffs at IBM have been circulating for a few months, but have really intensified over the past few weeks. I jumped ship two weeks ago and two days after I gave my notice I received frantic IMs from co-workers who have been laid off, because 80% of the department is supposed to be outsourced - primarily to South America as part of LEAN. Two days later some of my ex-co-workers got re-hired, but, of course, as contractors without benefits. Yea, it is that easy.

    The F500 clients are "not pleased", because they have been struggling with communication and logistical issues for quite some time with the new overseas staff, because you simply cannot expect that a non-native English speaker with (most of the time) heavy accent can elaborate highly technical and complex issues. We have been rolling our eyes for months while listening to daily conference calls with our South American or Indian peers. It simply does not work. The clients are paying a high premium for "excellence" and get served an understaffed, underpaid and "not very motivated" workforce. A server goes down in NJ and there is no staff to physically reboot the machine. I have seen instances where the client has to wait 3 months, before someone was found for "on-site" support.

    My US co-workers are naturally all pissed off. Contractors are let go without notice after almost a decade of service. Managers are trained to be naturally unemotional alpha-males with mostly poor people skills. Teams primarily consists of an equal number of computer-illiterate managers/techleads and technically skilled people who *do the job*. Sure, it's their right to lay off people, but the way it has been implemented has been traditionally poorly managed. After all a serial number is easier to let go than a human being. The published reports don't surprise me at all. I know plenty of ex-co-workers who have been let go (and rehired) a dozen times during my time at IBM. I am not disgruntled ex-employee, because I thought that the IBM way was the "way to go", because I never experienced any other work environment.

    I worked for IBM for almost a decade and I didn't even realize how miserable I was until I started my new position. When I got home from my first day at my new (non-IBM) job, I was so (positively) overwhelmed that I uncontrollably sobbed. This is what 10 years of working with IBM have done to me.

One small step for man, one giant stumble for mankind.

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