The most miserable thing about downturns is job losses. If you keep your job through a recession, the recession doesn’t hurt you. If you lose it, it hurts like hell.
As usual, the harshest cuts seem to be happening in the US where bankers’ analysts publicly cheer on CEOs who cut jobs.
Last year, Silicon Valley lost nearly 12,000 jobs in what can only be regarded as pre-emptive strikes by CEOs who, while largely unaffected by bad trading figures, wanted to make sure their figures would look OK if a downturn took hold.
This year, things are different. The downturn is taking hold and companies are being hit by bad figures.
This week Intel, after a 90 per cent profits drop last quarter and projections of a possible loss this quarter, said it will close three back end plants and two fabs with a potential loss of up to 6,000 jobs though it is said that it will try to re-deploy some people.
Motorola, which sold 19 million handsets in Q4 compared with 25.4 million in Q3, and 28 million in Q2 has said it would lay off 4,000 people, 3,000 in the handset business.
Microsoft is to lay off 5,000. TI will cut 3,400 jobs. Sprint Nextel will lay off 8,000.
Advanced Micro Devices has laid off 3.300 people in the last twelve months.
Freescale said it would cut ten per cent cut of its workforce during 2009 which will see 2,400 employees losing their jobs.
ON Semiconductor laid off 1,500 workers, imposed unpaid time off, and temporarily closed plants.
In Europe there has been some attempt to mitigate the effects of the downturn on workers. About 1800 workers in Infineon’s Dresden fab will reduce their weekly working hours for six months, starting in February.
ST closed its fabs in Catania and Agrate over Christmas, but recently announced it would lay off 4,500 people this year.
Philips, however, is laying off 6.000 employees.
Taiwan seems to take the view that it’s best to look after valuable fab workers rather than ditch them at the first signs of trouble, with TSMC and UMC announcing unpaid holiday programmes for the year.
Hopefully the new US President’s advocacy, in his inauguration speech, of cutting hours across the board rather than sacking people, will catch on.
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