Sunday, February 8, 2009

IBM's Project Match

IBM has an interesting new program, which seems to be generating an overly hostile reaction. 

"Project Match" (link) is a program to match up laid off employees with opportunities overseas.  As the article states:
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   IBM employees being laid off in North America now have an alternative to joining the ranks of the unemployed - work for the company abroad. . . Through a program dubbed Project Match, IBM will help interested workers whose jobs are on the chopping block to "identify potential opportunities in growth markets and facilitate consideration by hiring managers in this markets."
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Sounds reasonable.  The position doesn't make sense to do in the US but, if you'd like, we'll move you, get a work permit, and set you up in a geography where it does make sense to do the job.  Seems a lot better than throwing these workers out in the  street.

But some kind of pseudo-union (Alliance@IBM) is trying to make hay of this.  Their view is that "Not only is IBM offshoring its work to low-cost countries, now IBm wants employees to offshore themselves.  At a time of rising unemployment IBM should be looking to keep both the work and the workers in the United States."

This is classic head-in-the-sand thinking.  The country is in a recession/depression.  Sales are down and everyone is cutting back.  IBM is working to optimize its cost and quality combination, and all the pseudo-union (it is not certified) can say is:  This is really inconvenient.

Alliance@IBM is also attempting to link Project Match to the recent layoffs.  The inconvenient fact is, however, that most of those layoffs are in strictly local positions--logistics, distribution, onsite customer service. Those jobs can't be done remotely.   Alliance@IBM is fuzzing things up to create a sense of outrage.  

It looks to me like IBM is working to meet its workers halfway.  The firm is taking tough decisions so that it survives in the new global economy.  It's doing what it can to minimize the impact on employees.  In return, it gets a PR campaign accusing it of exactly what it is not doing -- laying workers off to move the jobs abroad.  

No wonder Alliance@IBm can't get certified.  Heaven help us all if it ever does.  It would destroy any chance the company has to survive.  

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