Corks are popping on Wall Street. The Nasdaq has climbed above 2,000 points again and the Dow Jones has crossed the 10,000-point mark.
But the people being laid off from Comverse Technology (Nasdaq:CMVT) aren't raising toasts. At least 850 people will be losing their jobs at the company, which employs 5,500, over the next two weeks.
The department chiefs spoke with each worker individually. "The people who got the call knew it was the end," said one worker, who got called.
He started working for Comverse at the peak of tech rage, when cash-stuffed startups were offering novice engineers salaries starting at NIS 15,000 to NIS 20,000, plus a company car. Now he's thinking about returning to his previous occupation, one which he left in hopes of a better future.
He's angry, disappointed, frustrated ¿ and surprised. Tomorrow brings him ¿ if he's lucky ¿ a sharp drop in income, if he¿s not ¿ zero income. He'd grown used to a high standard of living and to that warm fuzzy, safe feeling a cushy job gives anyone who has it. Now he'll have to pinch the shekels.
Comverse employees knew of the upcoming layoffs. Speculation ran rampant about who'd get the ax. Clearly, the list was headed by people who'd felt their workload ease.
The fired workers were given files with alternative employment offers. Some were offered even more substantial assistance in getting a new job.
So far, it was believed Comverse was letting 850 people go. "Today there are rumors that more than 1,000 will be dismissed," said that same ex-Comverse employee.
January, or March at the latest, are expected to bring another wave of layoffs.
Comverse isn't the first Israeli hi-tech company cutting jobs, but there's a difference between it and its cost-trimming brethren. It's still making a profit, $250 million in the last 12 months. Also, it still has $1.5 billion cash left. It isn't in crisis or facing shutdown.
The layoffs at Comverse prove that the threat of dismissal hangs over the heads of even the most sheltered workers. The layoffs at Comverse leave us wondering what, if anything, we gained from all this technological hullabaloo.