Workers Losing Jobs at IBM Get Overseas Option

Workers Losing Jobs at IBM Get Overseas Option

Some of the workers being let go by IBM in the U.S. and Canada have a chance to remain with the company -- if they're willing to move to Brazil, India, China or a dozen other lower-wage countries. But the expatriate employees would likely be paid at local salary rates.

IBM is offering the relocation option to employees who have been "notified of separation." It said that as part of the program, called Project Match, it will give workers financial aid to offset moving costs, assist them in securing visas and provide "other support to help ease the transition of an international move."

But people who agree to transfer must be "willing to work on local terms and conditions," IBM said.

The offer at least gives workers affected by the job cuts a choice, said Robert Kennedy, a professor at the University of Michigan and author of The Services Shift .

"What most of IBM's competitors are doing is just eliminating jobs and hiring people in India," Kennedy said. "I would say from IBM's point of view, they're trying to meet people maybe not halfway, but a quarter of the way." However, programs like Project Match will likely appeal primarily to young people who don't have families or mortgages tying them down, he said.

IBM spokesman Doug Shelton acknowledged that the program "is not for everybody." But, he said, it is "just one of many options available to IBMers whose jobs have been eliminated."

Shelton previously described the cutbacks as "an ongoing process that we do throughout the year to match skills and resources with our client needs." IBM hasn't disclosed the number of employees being let go, but Alliance@IBM, a labor union trying to organize IBM workers, said it has counted nearly 5,000 job cuts in recent weeks.

Ron Hira , an assistant professor at Rochester Institute of Technology and co-author of Outsourcing America , said that Project Match "is a clear indication that IBM plans on accelerating its massive offshoring of U.S. and Canadian jobs."

This version of the story originally appeared in Computerworld 's print edition.

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