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H-P to slash 6,000 jobs in Europe, union says

U.S. computer giant Hewlett-Packard will shed 6,000 jobs in Europe with more than half the cuts in France, Germany and Britain, a union official said on Friday.
/ Source: Reuters

U.S. computer giant Hewlett-Packard will shed 6,000 jobs in Europe with more than half the cuts in France, Germany and Britain, a union official said on Friday.

"They will start informing staff in all the countries in the coming week. But the information was given to the European works council at a meeting here," said Marc-Antoine Marcantoni of the European Metal Workers Federation in Brussels.

He said some 1,250 to 1,300 jobs would go in France and 145 in Belgium.

A spokesman for H-P at its headquarters in Palo Alto, California said the company had no comment. The group has a total of around 151,000 employees.

A spokesman for H-P in Britain confirmed a meeting of the European works council had taken place in Brussels.

The news emerged as European finance ministers were meeting in Manchester, England, where Britain's Gordon Brown urged action to make Europe a "high growth, low unemployment" area instead of a continent plagued by low growth and high unemployment.

It also came one week before a German election that Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder is expected to lose, in part due to voter dissatisfaction with high unemployment.

"We will do all we can as unions to prevent forced redundancies and plant closures. We also want to negotiate on a central level so that the company cannot play one country off against another," Marcantoni said.

A Hewlett-Packard spokesman in Germany said he could not comment on the report until next week when the local works council would be informed. In France the company also declined to comment until next week.

Hewlett-Packard has plants or offices in Grenoble, Isle d'Ableau and Sophia-Antipolis in France, Boebingen, Herrenberg and Ratingen in Germany and Bracknell, Bristol, Erskine, Glasgow, Reading and Swindon in the UK.

It also has sites in Brussels, Amstelveen in the Netherlands, Milan, Barcelona and Dublin and Galway in Ireland.

An official at the city hall of Grenoble, where 2,100 staff work at Hewlett-Packard, said there were fears the U.S. group would close sites completely.

"We do not have exact figures but we know that we will be hit hard because the sites of Grenoble and Isle D'Ableau have support activities," said Delphine Chenevier.

Biggest cuts since merger
Hewlett-Packard said in July it would slash about 10 percent of its work force in a sweeping move by new Chief Executive Mark Hurd to cut costs by $1.9 billion a year and compete better in cutthroat computer and printer markets.

The cuts are the biggest since former CEO Carly Fiorina slashed roughly 15,000 jobs after H-P's $19 billion acquisition of rival Compaq Computer in May 2002.

Analysts have pressed H-P for further job cuts or to spin off its lucrative imaging and printing group or divest its personal computing business, where costs are still higher than Dell's.

But Hurd has separated the printing and PC units, which were combined under Fiorina, suggesting that so far he has chosen to keep working on the PC business.

The company has already trimmed jobs at its lucrative imaging and printing business. In May about 2,000 workers in that unit accepted voluntary severance packages.