You're all missing the point here - this is about workforce reduction
I think the contributors below have missed the real sting in the IBM announcement, which is the change to the early retirement provisions.
It's been pretty obvious for several years that defined benefits schemes are on the way out, so it comes as little surprise that IBM is shutting it's scheme. The terms are not bad - employees keep the accrued benefits and in future contibute to a money purchase scheme with significant company support.
However, the big change is in early retirement provisions for those with accrued defined benefit pensions. This really matters as IT is a business where few people work right up to retirement age. Things change so fast that almost everyone ends up taking early retirement.. Over many years the deal has been that when a change comes along that means you have to retrain (again), there has been an alternative for the over 50s to take reasonably generous early retirement terms, usually supplemented by a voluntary redundancy package.
IBM's voluntary redundancy packages have got steadily fewer and steadily meaner meaner over the years, and have now disappeared completely. So the carrot is being replaced replaced by the stick and IBM will now effectively fine people over 50 who want to stay on in the comany beyond next April, by reducing their pensions.
Under the current early retirment terms, employees loose 3% of their pension for each year by which they retire early. Under the proposed changes this will become 7%, so someone planing to retire 5 years early will loose 35% of their pension rather than 15% - a huge difference. For someone planning to retire 10 years early it almost wipes out their pension. But those eligeable to retire early (i.e. over 50) can keep the current early retirement provisions by retiring before April next year.
So for anyone now in their early 50s this is is a no-brainer. Expect a huge exodus from the company of those in their 50s in March next year.
What a clever and Machiavellien way of achieving a redundancy program - making a high proportion of those over 50 leave the company without paying any redundancy money and without contravening age descrimination legislation!
One downside is a huge loss of trust between IBM management and its employess, which should matter for a company that makes "Trust and personal responsibility in all relationships" one of it's core values. But maybe that was just bullshit too.