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Computer Giant Offers Offshore Jobs To Its Laid Off Employees

By CityTownInfo.com Staff

February 10, 2009

In an effort to cope with the economic turndown, IBM has offered laid-off workers the opportunity to remain with the company by moving to lower-wage countries like India, China, and Brazil.

CNN reports that through a program called Project Match, IBM will help with moving costs and provide visa assistance to workers willing to relocate and accept the much lower foreign salaries.

Workers responded angrily to the initiative. Lee Conrad, a spokesman for Alliance@IBM, a workers' group affiliated with the Communications Workers of America, told CNN that "IBM not only is offshoring its work to low-cost countries, now IBM wants employees to offshore themselves." Conrad stressed that at a time when so many are facing unemployment, IBM should be striving to maintain jobs in the United States.

But other experts say that IBM is simply trying to cut costs while giving employees the option to continue working. "I would say from IBM's point of view," said Robert Kennedy, an author and professor of business administration at the University of Michigan, "they're trying to meet people maybe not halfway, but a quarter of the way." In an interview with Computerworld, Kennedy added that the program would most likely only be considered by people without families or mortgages.

IBM insists that the program is meant to assist employees. Project Match, said IBM spokesman Doug Shelton in Computerworld, may not be appropriate for everyone, but is "just one of many options available to IBMers whose jobs have been eliminated and are interested in looking for IBM opportunities worldwide."

In a related story, the Associated Press [from an article originally located at http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5gAhecy27tMnv895rUHh6r80kcrvwD95R33KG7] reports that Warner Bros. is making plans to outsource approximately 300 of its information technology and accounting positions to India and Poland.

Warner Bros announced that another 300 employees would be laid off and 200 positions would be eliminated. "Shifting consumer demand and the overall state of the economy have affected companies around the world, and Warner Bros. is not immune," the executives said in an e-mail.

Business Week notes that the outsourcing trend may be impossible for President Barack Obama to slow down, even though he has pledged to keep more jobs in the United States. According to a December 2008 report by the Hackett Group, a global strategic advisory firm that specializes in outsourcing, U.S. corporations will move at least 140,000 positions offshore this year and next, and more than 50 percent of those jobs will be in information technology.

But Obama's stimulus package is expected to create or retain thousands of computer jobs, offering hope to laid-off IT professionals. These new positions would focus on broadband Internet access, modernizing the power grid, and health information technology.

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