Grim scenes as Blackberry cuts 2,000 jobs

Toronto, July 26 (IANS) There were grim scenes at the BlackBerry headquarters at Waterloo near here Monday after the most famous Canadian company axed 2,000 jobs - about 11 percent of its total workforce.

The biggest lay-off in the history of Research In Motion (RIM), which invented the smart phone, reduced its global workforce to 17,000 with one stroke.

Since many of those dismissed Monday belonged to its 9,000 strong local staff in Waterloo and nearby Cambridge, grim scenes were witnessed outside RIM plants soon after the BlackBerry maker announced the steepest job cuts in its history.

'Dozens of cabs were dispatched to company offices in Cambridge and Waterloo, where employees were escorted out the door by security guards moments after getting their layoff notices. Clutching manila folders, about 50 workers were led to waiting taxis which drove them home,' reported the local Hamilton Spectator.

'But if anyone was panicking within RIM on the day the company announced its worst job losses since its creation in 1984, no one would admit it publicly. The troubled high-tech firm, which employs about 9,000 locally, has laid off people before - 200 last month and another 220 nine years ago - but it's never faced a slashing like this,' the daily said.

The lay-offs come after RIM's declining market share, shrinking revenue, profit warnings and delays in replacing the aging handsets. RIM stock, which has sunk nearly 60 percent this year, further slipped more than four percent to close at $25.19 Monday after the lay-offs.

But technology analysts expect even more job cuts by the troubled BlackBerry company.

According to Sameet Kanade of Northern Securities here, job cuts at RIM would reach 3,000. However, these lay-offs wouldn't help RIM much as they would prove to be disruptive for it, he said.

'It doesn't help employee morale, it doesn't help the expectant financial performance,' said Kanade.

Marianne Peters, a chef who used to do catering for axed RIM employees, aptly summed up the despondent mood in the BlackBerry town, saying, 'It is a stressful time. There is a lot of uncertainty looming. They knew this was coming but not to this extent. They thought maybe a couple of hundred jobs, but not this.'

(Gurmukh Singh can be contacted at gurmukh.s@ians.in)