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War of words on the impending IBM layoffs: IBM denies plan to lay off 100,000 employees

Zafar Anjum | Jan. 27, 2015
Calling it "ridiculous" and "baseless," IBM has dismissed a report that said the technology giant plans to lay off 1 in 4 of its workers, or 100,000 people, according to a report by AP.

Calling it "ridiculous" and "baseless," IBM has dismissed a report that said the technology giant plans to lay off 1 in 4 of its workers, or 100,000 people, according to a report by AP.

On 22 January, Forbes blogger Robert X. Cringley wrote that there will be a bloodbath at IBM next week. "To fix its business problems and speed up its "transformation," next week about 26 percent of IBM's employees will be getting phone calls from their managers," he predicted. (The blog was later updated with a denial by IBM's Hong Kong office).

On 26 January, TechWeek Europe reported that 'IBM is set to announce the largest round of corporate layoffs in history, culling 26 percent of its worldwide staff, or more than 111,000 people, beginning as early as this week'. Their report was based on the Forbes report. 'The cuts are part of a reorganisation plan called "Project Chrome" that has been rumoured for several weeks, and which was triggered by a disappointing earnings announcement last week, according to Forbes.'

On the same day, UK's The Mail Online published a sensational report claiming that 'the biggest corporate lay-off in history is expected within days' and that 'IBM believed to be scrapping 110,000 of its 430,000 workforce around the world.'

Their source of the story? Again the Forbes report. "But IBM poured cold water on the article, calling the reported scale of the job cuts 'ridiculous' and 'baseless'," noted the paper.

According to AP, IBM "flatly denies" the Forbes report, IBM spokesman Ian Colley said in a phone interview to the news agency.

After IBM's denial, investors seemed to 'have welcomed the idea of big changes at Big Blue', said the AP report. "Between Thursday, when the report was posted online and Monday morning's denial, IBM shares rose about 4% to peak at $159.46. The stock closed up just 49 cents at $156.36," said AP. 

There are many ways to spin a work force reduction: Forbes

After IBM denied the report, Robert X. Cringley, the Forbes contributor, wrote on 26 January: "After my column last week predicting massive cuts at the giant computer company, IBM now says I'm wrong, and that there will be nowhere near 110,000 IBM employees laid off. But like my young sons who never hit each other but instead push, slap, graze, or brush, I think IBM is dissembling, fixating on the term 110,000 layoffs, which by the way I never used. Whatever the word, what counts is how many fewer people will be paid by IBM on March 1 compared to today."

"There are many ways to spin a work force reduction," he maintained. "... They are only 'officially' laying off several thousand (maybe 12K I'm guessing), but others are being pushed out by being given poor performance ratings," Cringley quoted a source at IBM.

 

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