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IBM Could Trim 8,000 German Jobs, According to Labor Union

International Business Machines Corp. may be planning to eliminate about 8,000 jobs in Germany, said Bert Stach, who represents labor union Ver.di in negotiations with the U.S. company.

“I don’t expect IBM to cut these jobs through mass layoffs, but instead by offering severance packages,” Stach said by telephone. “In Germany, if you’re doing mass layoffs you have to go through negotiations with unions, and I think IBM will do anything to avoid that.”

Peter Gerdemann, a spokesman for IBM based in Ehningen, Germany, declined to comment on the size of any job cuts. “Some level of workforce re-mix is an ongoing part of our business,” he said in an e-mailed statement. “Given the competitive nature of our business, we do not publicly discuss the details of our staffing plans.”

Handelsblatt reported the possible job reductions earlier today, citing unidentified people from the company’s local board. IBM has 20,000 positions in the country, the newspaper said. The Armonk, New York-based company had almost 427,000 employees at the end of 2010, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

IBM said Jan. 19 that earnings, excluding some items, will increase to at least $14.85 per share this year. Chief Executive Officer Virginia Rometty said IBM is “on track” to reach its target of operating EPS of at least $20 in 2015.

Ver.di’s Stach said the company’s “medium- to long-term efforts” to restructure the workforce could result in a reduction of the size reported in Handelsblatt. “Whether it’s exactly 8,000, 6,000 or maybe even more than 8,000, that would be speculation,” Stach said.

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