Nortel to realign by cutting 4000 workers

Nortel to realign by cutting 4000 workers

Nortel Networks laid off almost 1000 workers last week and said it plans to cut another 3000 employees -- affecting about 4 per cent of its workforce altogether. But it then will replace those jobs by recruiting IT workers with skills related to higher growth areas of the marketplace.

The Brampton, Ontario-based company said the layoffs -- 700 in Ottawa and 200 in Toronto -- were mainly in research and development and were part of "normal re-skilling," or letting go of some workers and hiring others with different skill sets.

The next round of layoffs will follow the same practice, but the company said it will hire as many new workers as it lets go and that it's still aggressively recruiting. Nortel said the number of employees who are affected should be minimised as a result of normal attrition and retirement. The company currently employs about 94,500 workers.

Clarence Chandran, Nortel's chief operating officer, said in a statement that hiring this year will address projects in the area of optical and wireless Internet, local Internet and e-business.

"We would let that many people go in any given year. The reason we're issuing an announcement is because there's so much irrelevant angst in the marketplace right now," said Nortel spokesman Andy Lark. "What we're actually doing is decreasing our workforce in low-priority areas."

As an example of how it expects its overall workforce to remain unchanged, Lark said Nortel hired 200 people in the past two weeks for its Toronto facility.

While the cuts were mainly in R&D, coming layoffs will be across the board. The company chose not to retrain its employees because of time-to-market constraints, according to Lark. "Our customers don't wait for us to do that," he said.

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