Oracle silent on Australian cuts

Oracle silent on Australian cuts

Newlywed application juggernaut Oracle will sack 5000 employees worldwide as part of its consolidation with PeopleSoft but is remaining silent on whether cuts in Australia will equate to reported retrenchments of 30 percent in the New Zealand operation.

According to a New Zealand Press Association report, Oracle has already slashed that country's PeopleSoft employee base with 15 out of 50 positions eliminated. Should the same level of cuts occur in Australia, up to 150 positions could go.

At the time it merged with JD Edwards in late 2003, PeopleSoft's Australian operation carried some 600 combined staff. Those numbers are understood to have been reduced to around 500 through natural attrition over the last 18 months, with around 60 percent of remaining employees in the technical and support areas.

The New Zealand report shocked many IT analysts and customers as New Zealand is a traditional stronghold of former JD Edwards customers; PeopleSoft had little penetration across the Tasman until it acquired JDE.

"If the report is true it will send all the wrong signals for all the wrong reasons. It will look like a purge...that they are prepared to chuck the baby out with the bathwater. The best thing about PeopleSoft was it left us [NZ] alone," said one trans-Tasman JDE customer who asked not to be named.

Oracle spokesperson Tracy Postill refused to comment on any local cuts, saying only that more would be revealed in Larry Ellison's second live Web cast this week, scheduled for 7am January 19 (AEST). Postill confirmed the Web cast will be "listen only", meaning users, the media and analysts will not be able to ask questions of Oracle's new management team.

According to reports from PeopleSoft customers, several senior sales and marketing positions have already been axed; however, PeopleSoft customers are still being kept in the dark as to who will remain to run their accounts.

It is understood regional PeopleSoft vice president Murray Creighton and local managing director David Webster have already walked the plank, with marketing manager Bernard O'Brien's position also eliminated.

Some users feel that, with at least two years of solid integration work ahead of it, and a renowned thirst for maintenance revenue, Oracle is likely to opt to retain many existing technical and support staff rather than risk shedding customers.

Meta Group senior analyst Brian Prentice said the challenge for Oracle and its new customers will be how the vendor handles its transition phase.

"Transition is the issue. The proof of the pudding will be how quickly the people left over can deal with the workload that is there. Oracle has not been duplicitous [about its intentions. However] plenty of very good people are going to be losing their jobs," Prentice said.

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