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Welcome to Microsoft Pri0: That's Microspeak for top priority, and that's the news and observations you'll find here from Seattle Times reporter Sharon Chan.

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February 3, 2009 5:29 AM

Report: IBM offering to relocate laid off workers to India, China, Brazil

Posted by Benjamin J. Romano

InformationWeek, citing an internal document, reports that IBM is helping recently laid off workers find positions with the company overseas. From the document:

"IBM has established Project Match to help you locate potential job opportunities in growth markets where your skills are in demand. Should you accept a position in one of these countries, IBM offers financial assistance to offset moving costs, provides immigration support, such as visa assistance, and other support to help ease the transition of an international move."

The document goes on to say the program is for Canadian and U.S. workers "willing to work on local terms and conditions." InformationWeek says that "indicates that workers will be paid according to prevailing norms in the countries to which they relocate. In many cases, that could be substantially less than what they earned in North America."

Other countries in the program include Mexico, the Czech Republic, Russia, South Africa, Nigeria, and the United Arab Emirates.

IBM has cut an estimated 4,000 jobs since it reported fourth-quarter earnings. This Associated Press story described the plight of one laid-off IBM worker:

"Jim Gallo, 48, who said he worked in IBM software support for 27 years, was among those let go from that facility[IBM's Essex Junction facility in Vermont]. Gallo, drinking a Grey Goose and ginger ale at nearby Lincoln Inn on Tuesday, said he hadn't told his four children yet.

"He said he has until Feb. 26 to find another job in IBM, but he put his chances at 'slim to none.' Gallo said he gets six months' pay as part of a severance package.

"'It's too bad they're not doing what they were doing before. They offered some sweet packages for people to jump out,' he said.

"IBM's ongoing labor adjustments have led the company to add bodies in cheaper and higher-growth parts of the world, like India.

"In 2007, the last full year for which detailed employment numbers are available, 121,000 of IBM's 387,000 workers were in the U.S., down slightly from the year before. Meanwhile, staffing in India has jumped from just 9,000 workers in 2003 to 74,000 workers in 2007."

The InformationWeek story on IBM's Project Match provides interesting context to a discussion going on in the comments of my last post on Microsoft's immigration reform position.

Reader John A. Bailo wrote: "China and India are moving into a phase where they are net importers of engineers. Their domestic economics could dwarf our own. In fact, at some point, people coming to America or staying here may get equivelently less pay than the more competitive markets overseas."

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