The Tech News Blog

January 19, 2014

Intel to Trim 5% of Workforce in 2014

Intel Avoton Package

A layoff at Intel? Not quite.

Or at least, that's how the company is attempting to spin its plans to cut roughly five percent of its workforce in 2014.

The news comes a day after the company announced a quarterly profit of $2.6 billion on revenue of $13.8 billion — both figures are up approximately three percent from the same time period last year, but the company's yearly profit of $9.6 billion was down 13 percent from 2013's figures. Its sales were down one percent to $52.7 billion, and Intel executives are predicting no growth (or loss) in 2014.

Intel's trimming – or whatever it happens to call the reduction in employee count – might not be as bad as it sounds. According to executives, Intel might just not elect to fill spots vacated by quitting or retiring workers. Approximately four percent of the company cycles each year, which seems a bit better than an arbitrary axing of a bit over 5,000 of the company's employees.

"It would be wrong to conclude this is a layoff," described Intel spokesman Chris Kraeuter in an interview with AFP.

June 13, 2013

IBM Cuts More Than 1,600 U.S. Jobs

IBM Logo

IBM has laid off more than 1,600 U.S. workers in a new round of job cuts this week, according to an employee advocacy organization.

As of Thursday afternoon, 1,631 IBM workers across multiple business units had been laid off, according to Alliance@IBM, which is keeping track of the cuts as it receives severance documents from affected workers. The downsizing includes 222 employees in the software marketing group, 165 workers from semiconductor research and development, and 137 from management.

"Change is constant in the technology industry and transformation is an essential feature of our business model," IBM said in a statement to PCMag when asked about the cuts. "Consequently, some level of workforce remix is a constant requirement for our business."

IBM declined to provide any details about the latest round of cuts, adding that "we do not publicly discuss the details of staffing plans."

The move is part of a billion-dollar, worldwide restructuring plan announced in April following IBM's disappointing first-quarter financial results, according to Bloomberg. The layoffs will affect almost all IBM divisions in every location, including outposts in Raleigh, North Carolina; Burlington, Vermont; Austin, Texas; and New York's Hudson Valley, Alliance@IBM coordinator Lee Conrad told the news outlet.

May 20, 2013

Reports: 3 More Foxconn Employees Commit Suicide

Foxconn Worker

Suicide continues to plague Foxconn, the Taiwanese electronics manufacturing giant best known for making Apple products.

At least two Foxconn workers, and one prospective employee, have fallen to their deaths in Zhengzhou, China over the last 20 days, according to various reports. The most recent incident occurred on May 14, when a 30-year-old male from Henan, who had been working at Foxconn since the end of April, jumped off the roof of a building, New York-Based nonprofit China Labor Watch reported on Friday.

Before that, a 23-year-old female worker reportedly leapt off the twelfth floor of an apartment building on April 27, China Labor Watch said. Just days earlier on April 24, a 24-year-old male worker jumped off the roof of a dormitory building.

Foxconn's parent company Hon Hai told The Wall Street Journal in a statement that the employee deaths on April 27 and May 14 occurred outside of the company's property and there wasn't any reason to believe they were work-related. The technology giant said that the 24-year-old man who died on April 24 was not a Foxconn employee, but had applied for a job with the company.

According to a separate report from PCWorld, another worker from Foxconn's Chongqing, China facility was found dead on May 11 after jumping from a building. Police are investigating the incident.

At this point, the reason for the suicides is unclear.

February 8, 2013

HP Cracks Down on Student Labor in China

hp logo Hewlett-Packard is the latest major consumer electronics company to take a hard look at its overseas suppliers.

As first reported by the New York Times, HP today provided its Chinese suppliers with new rules regarding the use of student and temp workers.

The guidelines state that workers must be there on a voluntary basis and be permitted to leave without negative repercussions. All local rules regarding working age and hours must be enforced or exceeded. Students should also only be working on projects that complement their area of study, and the number of student workers should be limited. Factories should be "composed primarily of full-time workers," HP said.

"HP has a history of leadership in proactively addressing labor issues and driving supply chain improvements," Tony Prophet, senior vice president of Worldwide Supply Chain Operations at HP, said in a statement. "We have worked closely with leading Chinese stakeholders to develop our new student and temporary worker guidelines to ensure the highest standards of ethical workforce management."

Suppliers are being asked to comply with the guidelines immediately, HP said. Progress will be monitored via audits.

HP said its supply chain includes more than 1,000 production suppliers and tens of thousands of nonproduction suppliers in more than 45 countries and territories.

December 28, 2012

Foxconn Factory Conditions Improving, One Comfy Chair at a Time

Foxconn employees

Working conditions seem to be improving at Apple production partner Foxconn's mainland China factories, if that's what more comfortable chairs and protective foam on low stairwell ceilings mean.

New York Times article published Wednesday details positive changes at Foxconn's China-based plants, which have been criticized by global labor rights groups and were toured by the Fair Labor Association (FLA) at Apple's request earlier this year.

In May, reports from both the Hong Kong-based watchdog group Students & Scholars Against Corporate Misbehavior (SACOM) and the FLA found abuses at Foxconn facilities. This year's multiple Apple product launches put added pressure on the factories, which allegedly pushed workers into overtime and forced them to endure "humiliating" disciplinary action, including the writing and reading of confession letters, and manual labor duties like toilet cleaning.

A worker uprising came about a month later, when dozens of Foxconn employees were arrested during a riot at the Chengdu, China plant after a class with security staff. Furthermore, reports of an iPhone 5 production line strike surfaced just weeks after the new Apple smartphone hit shelves in September.

But could the Taiwanese contract manufacturing giant be turning things around just in time to make a New Year's resolution?

According to the Times, Foxconn has already carried out more than 280 of 360 changes recommended by the FLA.

December 6, 2012

Some Apple Mac Production Moving to U.S. in 2013, Cook Says

tim cook responds

Apple chief Tim Cook confirmed this week that some parts of Mac production will come to the U.S. starting next year.

"Next year we are going to bring some production to the U.S. on the Mac," Cook said in a far-reaching interview with Bloomberg Businessweek. "We've been working on this for a long time, and we were getting closer to it. It will happen in 2013."

Reports of a U.S.-made Mac made the rounds earlier this week when TechCrunch reported that some of the new iMacs said "Assembled in USA."

While many of Apple's products are produced overseas, it does have a plant in Elk Grove, Calif. TechCrunch pointed to a Sacramento Business Journal article from September, that said the Elk Grove facility had grown to 1,800 employees, up 50 percent from last year.

Cook did not comment on where in the U.S. the Macs will be produced. He conceded that Apple won't be working alone; "well be working with people, and we'll be investing our money," he said. But Cupertino will shell out "over $100 million," he said.

"We could have quickly maybe done just assembly, but it's broader because we wanted to do something more substantial," he said.

November 7, 2012

Foxconn Boss Confirms iPhone 5 Production Delays

iPhone 5

Hon Hai Precision Industry and Foxconn chairman Terry Gou on Wednesday confirmed reports that production of Apple's new iPhone 5 is hitting snags and that the Taiwanese contract manufacturer is unable to supply Apple with as many units as the iPhone maker is requesting.

Gou didn't specify what was causing the production issues in a talk with reporters at a Taipei conference, The Wall Street Journal reported.

"Market demand is very strong, but we just can't really fulfill Apple's requests," Gou was quoted by the newspaper as saying.

It was first reported last month that certain difficult-to-produce components of the new iPhone, such as an anodized aluminum back casing that's prone to scratching, were making it difficult for Apple suppliers like Foxconn to produce the smartphones fast enough to meet demand.

Overtaxed quality control inspectors at Foxconn's mainland China facilities where iPhone 5s are assembled reportedly launched a strike in October to protest new tough-to-meet production standards, though Foxconn at the time denied that there had been a strike or any disruption to iPhone production.

October 29, 2012

PayPal Cuts 325 Jobs in Restructuring

paypal iphn pay pic

PayPal today eliminated more than 400 jobs as it consolidated several of its product groups.

The company laid off 325 full-time employees, primarily in its product and tech groups, as well as 120 contract workers.

The move comes after PayPal said it redesigned its product organization and collapsed nine product groups into one.

"Instead of being organized around projects, our teams will now be dedicated to products and focused on our customers — consumers, developers, small businesses and large retailers," PayPal president David Marcus wrote in a blog post.

Marcus said PayPal is "strong and performing well," the layoffs are necessary to simplify the company.

"Moving forward, I'm confident these changes will make PayPal even better and stronger," Marcus continued. "Our customers can expect faster innovation and great products and experiences that make their lives simpler. That's our commitment — every day."

October 18, 2012

AMD to Lay Off 15 Percent of Workforce

AMD Logo

Advanced Micro Devices on Thursday announced it will lay off 15 percent of its workforce around the world with a "significant portion" of the downsizing to occur in the final quarter of this year.

AMD had been expected to reveal a major restructuring effort while reporting a disappointing third quarter, though the number of layoffs the company announced was well below rumors that pink slips could be handed out to as much as a third of the chip maker's employees.

"These actions will return AMD to profitable growth," AMD president and CEO Rory Read said on a call with investors and analysts. The chip maker said the restructuring would also include closing down unspecified sites around the globe.

"Our restructuring efforts are decisive actions that position AMD to compete more effectively and improve our financial results. Reducing our workforce is a difficult, but necessary, step to take advantage of the eventual market recovery and capitalize on growth opportunities for our products outside of the traditional PC market," Read said.

The company said it expects its restructuring to result in fourth-quarter operational savings of $20 million, along with a savings of $190 million in 2013, though AMD will "record a restructuring expense in the fourth quarter of 2012 of approximately $80 million in connection with these actions."

October 16, 2012

Foxconn Admits to Hiring Underage Interns


Foxconn on Tuesday confirmed that it employed interns between the ages of 14 and 16.

"An internal investigation carried out by our company has confirmed media reports in China that some participants in the short-term student internship program that is administered at our campus in Yantai, Shandong Province are under the legal working age of 16 years," Foxconn said in a statement. "This is not only a violation of China's labor law, it is also a violation of Foxconn policy and immediate steps have been taken to return the interns in question to their educational institutions."

Foxconn said it is "carrying out a full investigation, in cooperation with the respective educational institutions, to determine how this happened and the actions that must be taken by our company to ensure that it can never happen again."

The company said its own investigation showed that the interns in question worked at Foxconn for about three weeks. "We have found no evidence of similar violations in any of our other campuses in China but we will not hesitate to take immediate action in any campus if any violations are discovered," the firm concluded.

The statement comes after the non-profit China Labor Watch released a report that said Foxconn employed underage interns between the ages of 14 and 16. "These underage interns were mainly sent to Foxconn by schools, but Foxconn did not check the IDs of these young interns," a spokesperson for China Labor Watch said on Moday. "The schools involved in this incident should take primary responsible, but Foxconn is also culpable for not confirming the ages of their workers. China Labor Watch calls on the Chinese government to improve the current intern system of Chinese schools."

In addition to various reports of stressful work conditions and long hours, as well as cramped on-campus living quarters, rumors regarding underage workers at Foxconn have been floated for months, but Foxconn denied any wrondoing, until now.