Uncertainty clouds the Sun, employees gloomy

Deepa Kurup

150 staff in city retrenched; more jobs on the line

Those with long years of service get a

decent package

‘Unlike in 2000, this time there are

jobs on offer’

BANGALORE: Employees at Sun Microsystems, the leading computer products company, logged in to work on Monday here to find many of their colleagues were removed over the weekend. About 150 of 850 employees have been retrenched.

Sources in the company HR confirmed that several projects and divisions had been disbanded and a certain percentage of employees removed from every team.

Official sources, however, refused to commit to any numbers. Employees who escaped the sack this time say there are rumours that two more rounds will follow.

Ominous forecasts

Last week, several big names in Sun’s league announced massive job cuts and issued ominous forecasts. Sun announced in November its plan to “eliminate redundancies” and retrench 6,000 employees globally — 15 to 18 per cent of its workforce. Employees in its Bangalore office have been on the tenterhooks ever since.

Sources said at least three software products divisions have been shut down. For instance, the division working on the Spark machine, which is reportedly doing bad business, was disbanded on Friday. “Employees with work experience ranging from three to 17 years were sacked,” an employee, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, told The Hindu. Nearly 35 employees working on the virtualisation software, and those in the Service Oriented Architecture (SOA) team were sent home, they said.

A mid-level executive from the software division, who was retrenched on Friday, said although his team was intact, he was forced to “voluntarily” resign. “In September, we were told that there would be cost-cutting and optimisation. I did not expect this since my team was already short-staffed,” he said.

Bad market

With almost all of Sun’s competitors facing similar crisis, there were no jobs in the market. “In 2000, when companies laid off, there were jobs available even if the pay was less. That is not the case anymore,” he said.

Those who survived this round of pink slips claim they have little reason to celebrate. “The company is spreading it thin with existing projects. So our work hours will increase and there will be constant pressure to perform or quit,” a project manager said.

Cold comfort

Those retrenched get a severance pay of three months’ salary plus 15 days’ salary for every year of work experience.

“The package is decent, which is why those with 10-15 years of experience are not complaining,” said an employee. The HR team tried to place several staffers by sharing resume databases and even arranging interviews with companies like Yahoo!

Pravir Arora, Director-Marketing, Sun Microsystems India, said the company was reducing annual costs globally by approximately $ 700 million to $ 800 million. Maintaining that the impact on India would be “minimal”, he said: “India is an investment destination and growth engine.”

Sun’s management persisted in its optimism and pointed out that its largest developer base — over 7,80,000 — was in India. Its Open Source software strategy, where it offered free access to its Operating System (Solaris) among several other products, distinguished it from scores of hardware and software firms in the city.

So, does this strategy work better in these times of cost-cutting?

Mr. Arora pointed out that during the recession, the market would look more towards adopting “open source innovation to escape proprietary vendor pricing”.

“Customers continue to tell us of the opportunities to decrease spending and drive efficiency via the adoption of open source products,” he added.

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