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February 7, 2018

IBM axes GTS voluntary redundancy programme – report

A staff member said the move was an "absolute kick in the teeth".

By Sabrina Dougall

IBM has reportedly called a halt to its redundancy programme at Global Technology Services (GTS) where almost 2,000 staff were warned they could face redundancy.

Big Blue told staff at the beginning of December that it was looking for voluntary redundancies in the Technology Support Services (TSS) and IS Delivery (ISD) departments of the GTS UK arm.

IBM employees in both these divisions were warned at the end of November that up to 1,900 faced possible redundancy and more than 500 jobs could be cut, The Register reported.IBM

A total of 21 offers of voluntary redundancy had been accepted by IBM in TSS, before Big Blue retracted the offers at the last minute. Insiders told The Register that 35 TSS staff members had expressed interest in taking the redundancy package, with IBM making an offer to 29 of those people.

The deadline for expressing interest in redundancy had been set for December 15, and was then extended by four days.  Big Blue then told a staff rep committee about the expressions of interest in its redundancy programme in a meeting on January 24.

However, IBM suddenly pulled the plug at the end of last week, as Jon Grubb, director of GTS service delivery for UK and Ireland, told the department the Open Voluntary Offer programme had been “paused to give the opportunity and time for more Voluntary Expressions of Interest to be made”.

“The window during which employees can express interest in a voluntary package has been re-opened and will remain open until further notice,” he said in a memo seen by The Register.

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One disgruntled employee expressed anger at the backpedal because various staff had “shown their ‘I would like to leave hand'” and then were given an “absolute kick in the teeth”, The Register reported. The unnamed source spoke of uncertainty around what Big Blue management would decide to do next, and compared the situation to “roulette” as accepted offers could theoretically be withdrawn.

Other insiders told The Register they have felt uncertain over their jobs since late 2017 and continue to worry over their future at the company.

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ISD staff Rep S Singh told The Reg: “The whole programme has descended into near farce on the voluntary phase, with IBM resisting all attempts from the employee reps to get a meaningful extension to the voluntary phase before Xmas, then coming back at yesterday’s meeting (31 January) with a proposal to re-open the voluntary phase but not honour the commitments made to those who have already gone through the EOI phase.”

Earlier this month, a leaked memo suggested Big Blue was considering a merge of its GTS division with Global Business Services (GBS) under the name of “IBM Services”. A consultancy had advised the bluechip to shed 10,100 staff from GTS, however, IBM quickly denied it was considering the plan.

“As IBM transforms into the premier cognitive computing and cloud platform company, we continue to remix our skills and invest in these priority areas. IBM does this in each market in which we operate, adapting to meet local client needs. Our clients expect no less. IBM currently has about 25,000 job openings around the world for new skills in growth areas such as cloud, analytics, security, and social and mobile technologies,” a spokesperson from IBM told The Register.

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