IBM has confirmed to former employees that it will no longer provide grants to the Retired Employees Club, meaning there will be no more subsidized short trips to the Italian Riviera or golf days.
The clubs are distributed regionally. In the UK, for example, 28 local organizations organized short trips or national tournaments, including corporate games or group races.
Club membership was free for all Big Blue retirees with at least 10 years of service, regardless of retirement age. For local clubs, members were asked to pay a small annual fee.
Elisa Pearson, Human Resources Director for UK and Ireland, confirmed in an email to members – seen by The register – that IBM has “decided to reconsider its relationship with its IBM Clubs globally”.
“This reassessment is being done against the backdrop of developing new, contemporary approaches to employee engagement. With this, from the end of June 2022, IBM will cease official support for UK clubs.”
The one exception, at least in the UK, is the Hursley Clubhouse, where some funding will continue. The Hampshire village is also home to IBM Laboratories, where R&D for Big Blue has been carried out since the 1950s, and home to the IBM Hursley Museum.
Pearson said in his email that IBM realizes the development “may be disappointing news, however we are aware that in the UK we have a large population of pensioners clubs.
“We would therefore welcome ideas from our retirees clubs, on how we might continue as a club in the future. When an IBM retirees club decides today to continue as a new, external entity, entirely independent of IBM UK, in the future we will share your information with newly retired IBMers.”
Pearson added in the email, “You may be able to join one of them.”
For some, the loss of financial support means the end of the road. The South Hants IBM Retired Employee Club confirmed it was closing, saying: “From our club’s perspective, we cannot operate without the IBM grant, so it is with heavy hearts that we plan how we let’s close it.”
Removing the subsidy was something clubs feared. The subject was raised at the IBM Retiree Club Midlands at its annual general meeting in March. The club, which has 419 members, said in the minutes [PDF] of this meeting, he had no information on IBM grants for 2022.
“At best, we expect the subsidy to continue to reduce per capita value by 10% per year, meaning it is unlikely to exceed £9.50 ($12) per capita. the reappearance of inflation, we could discover the possibility of subsidizing events to reduce considerably.”
At the South Hants Club’s AGM – postponed until April to see if IBM is contributing financially to its events this year – members expected to receive funding and talked about raising membership fees, minutes show. [PDF] of that session. Clearly, this was decided against.
Some readers may have little sympathy for the plight of former IBMers who now have to dig a little deeper to socialize. Others may say that IBM is once again demonstrating the steely edge that shareholders know and love.
IBM posted revenue of $14.2 billion in the first calendar quarter, up 8% from the same period a year earlier. It reported a drop in net profit to $733 million from $955 million. IBM returned $1.5 billion to shareholders during the quarter.
The timing of the Retiree Clubs ruling coincides with several former IBM employees filing lawsuits against the company, alleging age discrimination when IBM fired them.
We asked IBM to comment on other activities it has planned for retirees and why it decided to abandon the current structure. ®