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Report: TI France workers lament job cuts

Posted: 06 Feb 2009 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:TI job cut? IC recession? France workforce? wireless business?

According to reports and sources at the company, angry employees at Texas Instrument Inc.'s French subsidiary have held protest in recent days on the job cuts and lackluster severance packages offered by the chipmaker.

Workers at TI France have basically gone on "strike," thereby slowing product development at the site, according to a source within the chipmaker. Seeking to resolve the matter, TI and workers at the company's French unit are in negotiations over compensation packages and other issues, but the talks appear to be hitting the wall, according to a report from the Rivera Radio Website.

As reported last week, TI said it will lay off 12 percent of its worldwide workforce, or approximately 3,400 employees, as it restructures operations following one of the worst sequential and y-on-y quarterly performances in the history of the analog and digital signal processor company.

The cuts affected 305 jobs at the company's French headquarters in Villeneuve-Loubet. Over 800 designers and application engineers work at the site, the home of the Wireless Communications Business Center. The site is also a key center in the development of TI's OMAP cellphone chip platform.

A TI source said that 35 percent of the company's headcount in Villeneuve-Loubet will be affected by job cuts. "In this unfavorable economic context, TI decided also to discontinue efforts to sell its wireless merchant baseband business," according to a statement released by TI in France.

"As a consequence, in total, 305 jobs in TI France will be impacted as part of the reorganization project announced last October, including job impact previously communicated and those associated with the baseband business. Discussions continue with employee representatives and the Works Council meeting continues progressing on the social accompanying measures," the TI statement said.

TI insisted that its Villeneuve-Loubet site will remain a key R&D business center for its digital and wireless systems solutions, including OMAP and custom digital baseband products. The company said it does not anticipate additional job reductions at TI France in organizations impacted by the current reorganization project.

TI has offered compensation to fired employees, but many of them remain bitter despite the discussions with French agencies. "Compared to the recent layoffs at HP, Atmel and STMicroelectronics (in France), the proposed indemnities are really peanuts and TI France employees are quite furious and have lost their motivation," according to one TI engineer at the site.

Not enough
"Furthermore, 90 percent of TI France employees, including managers, have decided to go on strike and to repeat the current actions until they get a decent proposal from the management," the source said.

"Some 'pseudo-negotiations' have already started between the two parties, but unfortunately, TI management hasn't done (enough) and the proposed indemnities are perceived by the employees as a strong lack of respect," according to the source.

What you may be seeing is U.S. capitalism crashing into European left-of-center social democracy, an analyst said. French labor laws are stringent and provide job security. It is difficult for employers to fire workers. Employers must negotiate for weeks to implement layoffs.

It is much easier to implement layoffs in the United States, where U.S. companies can skirt around the laws.

For example, IBM Corp. has cut more workers, including within its chip, research and other units. The job cuts, which have been anticipated for weeks, are causing anger and friction inside the computer giant.

The company has confirmed the layoffs in various reports, but it has been mum about the size and the extent of the cutbacks. The computer giant has been able to skirt the issue, because the layoffs fall short of 500 in a specific division, as defined by the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act, or WARN Act.

- Mark LaPedus
EE Times





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