Job threat to 100 Suffolk employees

PUBLISHED: 16:01 22 August 2001 | UPDATED: 10:28 03 March 2010

UP to 100 jobs could go at Agilent in Ipswich it was announced.

The news comes as the US-based technology giant tries to cope with the continued downturn in component sales across the world.

UP to 100 jobs could go at Agilent in Ipswich it was announced.

The news comes as the US-based technology giant tries to cope with the continued downturn in component sales across the world.

The cuts are part of 4,000 across the group and John Ure, site manager at the Whitehouse Industrial Estate research and development complex, told the Evening Star that staff meetings were being held throughout today.

Job cuts are likely to be in components manufacturing where there is currently excess capacity due to the sharp decline in orders.

Mr Ure said: "Up to 100 jobs could be affected and as we do not have a union or consultative committee, from today we will be starting a voting process whereby staff will elect their consultation representatives.

"The cuts will not be across the board but are to be made through volunteers but that won't happen just yet. Election of representatives will be completed by September 14 and from September 17 talks will begin with volunteers," he added.

The technology group, formerly part of computer giant Hewlett Packard, blamed the worst downturn in the industry for 34 years for the job cuts.

Revenues were down 23 per cent to £1.23 billion from £1.65 billion for the quarter ended 31 July, resulting in a net loss of £150 million compared with a £106 million profit for the same period last year.

But Mr Ure said that they produced £1billion worth of goods in the last quarter alone proving that Agilent was still a successful company despite the fall in orders.

Agilent set up a payroll reduction of 10 per cent earlier this year and Mr Ure said that was saving £47 million a quarter, company-wide.

He said: "It was intended to end at the end of October. This is still the case."

A number of other cost-saving measures had been introduced and they included closure at holiday periods and cuts in travel by using video conferencing methods instead of personal visits.

At Ipswich around 400 people are employed and a new building is currently under construction which will house up to 500 more research and development staff.

Mr Ure said that the building is still on target for completion by March next year and it will be staffed.

"The research and development on this site will not be affected by the job cuts but the timing of when it will be fully staffed will be dependent upon the general global trend on sales."

Ned Barnholt, Agilent Technologies president and chief executive officer, said: "Based on our outlook earlier in the year, we implemented a variety of aggressive cost control measures to try to avoid layoffs.

"The measures to date have had a positive impact, but the business environment in our key industries continued to deteriorate this quarter. And the outlook going forward is for a slow and gradual recovery. We are now taking additional actions to bring the size of our workforce more in line with anticipated business levels."

"This decision is one we don't make lightly. This is by far the worst industry downturn I've seen in 34 years with the company. Extraordinary business conditions, unfortunately, require unusual actions."

In view of the poor market conditions, Agilent said it was pleased with its asset management over the past quarter, and revenue and earnings were "somewhat stronger than expected".

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