Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Grim Week for Agilent Employees

This past Wednesday, Agilent Technologies laid off 300 employees at its Santa Rosa division or more than 20 percent of its work force. Agilent employees had been awaiting the grim news for the past three weeks. In March, the Santa Clara-based company announced plans to eliminate 14 percent of its global work force. The layoffs at the high-tech test & measurement equipment manufacturer occurred over the full range of Agilent jobs in Santa Rosa, including managers, engineers, marketing, human resources, finance, manufacturing and support, said Ron Nersesian, who heads Agilent’s Santa Rosa-based Electronic Measurement Group.

Wednesday’s layoffs were the largest at Agilent in Santa Rosa since 2005, when more than 300 employees were let go. Over the past eight years, the company has eliminated 5 out of 6 jobs at its Sonoma County operations as it slashed costs and moved manufacturing jobs to cheaper facilities overseas. The layoffs will leave Agilent with 1,050 employees in Sonoma County, down from a peak of 6,000 regular and temporary workers in 2001.

Unlike past layoffs that involved the shifting of manufacturing jobs overseas, these recent job cuts were not for the sake of offshoring, Nersesian said. The company’s Asian manufacturing facilities also face “significant” cut-backs because of falling orders for Agilent’s products, he said.

Agilent and other technology companies are losing business as consumers cut back on spending for the latest electronic devices. This year’s revenue for the test and measurement business will be down 30 percent from 2008, the company said in March.
Overall, the company is cutting 2,700 jobs worldwide under the restructuring plan implemented Wednesday. The staffing cuts and other cost-cutting measures are expected to save the company $300 million over the next four quarters.

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