IBM is planning to cut "a large number" of U.S. jobs in its Global Business Services division, with many positions being switched over to workers in India, The Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday, citing anonymous sources.
The reported cuts would be just the latest round made by IBM in recent months as the global recession continues.
IBM does "not comment on rumor or speculation," said spokesman Doug Shelton.
If US Global Business Services jobs are shifted to India, they will likely be positions such as application maintenance, application development and network management, versus on-site ERP (enterprise resource planning) implementation jobs, according to Forrester Research analyst Paul Roehrig, who said that he hadn't personally seen the Journal's report.
Lee Conrad, national coordinator of the Alliance@IBM/CWA Local 1701, a union that has been trying to organize IBM workers, said the group has been expecting US cuts to the global services unit for some time.
The union has heard that 4,000 jobs will be affected, "but we don't have any confirmation, as usual," Conrad said. Canadian IBM workers are telling the union that they are hearing the rumors as well, he said.
"What really bothers us is that if there's work in India, there's work here," Conrad added.
But outsourcing is an inevitable trend given the globalized economy and the tremendous economic pressures companies are facing due to the recession, according to Roehrig.
"As businesses become more technology-abled, more and more work will land where it can be done for less," he said. "Getting there is just devastatingly difficult [for affected workers], and there's no way to diminish the amount of pain."
IBM had 398,455 employees at the end of 2008, up from 386,558 at the end of 2007, according to its most recent annual report.
Meanwhile, IBM is also reportedly set to spend billions to acquire Sun Microsystems, a move that would add thousands of employees to its rolls. Neither company has publicly confirmed such talks are ongoing.