The news today from The Wall Street Journal that IBM is expected to cut a large number of U.S. workers in its global services unit and move that work to IBM employees in India reminded me that IBM, in addition to its possible takeover of Sun Microsystems Corp., is also rumored to be a buyer for Satyam Computer Services Ltd., the struggling Indian IT provider undone by the financial fraud perpetrated by former chairman B. Ramalinga Raju.
The WSJ piece said the planned IBM layoffs show that even profitable companies continue to cut costs— “some of them by taking advantage of cheaper Asian labor.”
It can’t be long, with or without a purchase of Satyam, that someone suggests the I in IBM stands for India. But that, it seems, would be selling IBM short.
In a round of layoffs made earlier this year (an estimated 2,800 by some reports), IBM lived up to its International moniker. The company offered laid-off employees in good standing and willing to work under local conditions and terms the opportunity to go work offshore at one of IBM’s centers — not only in India, but also in Nigeria, Russia, Argentina, Brazil, China, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Mexico, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Africa, Turkey and United Arab Emirates. Not surprisingly, Project Match sparked a strong rebuke from labor unions slamming the Armonk, N.Y., provider for not only offshoring jobs to low-cost countries but now wanting employees to offshore themselves.
It will be interesting to see if IBM makes the same offer to laid-off employees this time around.