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Big Blue wields the jobs axe

Fears voiced of further cuts, as 1,650 IBM jobs go across two divisions

Union organisers at IBM claim the technology giant is planning "major job cuts" after IBM announced it is to axe 1,500 jobs from its consulting division, and a further 150 from its PC division.

Big Blue says the move is a "skills rebalancing exercise", rather than a cut back in response to the slowdown. The consulting redundancies amount to no more than 1% of the 150,000 jobs within IBM Global Services, and are being portrayed as an effort to ensure its skills match those demanded by its customers. IBM says it will continue to recruit staff in other areas.

But officials from Alliance@IBM, a division of the Communications Workers of America union, claim at least 660 staff have been laid off in sales and distribution, while 1,000 manufacturing jobs were lost at three US plants. It has sent a letter to Sam Palmisano, IBM's president and likely successor to Lou Gerstner, demanding that "IBM senior management be immediately forthcoming in providing all IBM employees information on pending job or benefit cuts".

Meanwhile, IBM has completed the $1bn (£0.7bn) acquisition of the database assets of Informix Corporation. The purchase will see 2,500 Informix employees join the IBM ranks, whilst the newly acquired product line will be sold through a combined IBM and Informix salesforce. As a result of the acquisition, the remains of Informix Corporation will be renamed Ascential Software Corporation.

IBM says it will now begin the task of integrating selected Informix technologies into its DB2 Universal Database, which will continue to be Big Blue's flagship database product. The Informix business will become part of the existing IBM software data management division, headed up by Janet Perna, who claims "the newly formed data management team will continue to deliver the most innovative technologies at the best value to customers".

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