Computer disk drive plant to lay off more than 500 employees

Tuesday, May 1st 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ Just because a computer disk drive plant is laying off nearly a third of its employees doesn't mean the company will close the facility, officials say.

More than 500 people learned Monday they would lose their jobs at Seagate Technology in Oklahoma City. About 100 found out during a meeting at an Oklahoma City church. None would comment.

Seagate officials said the layoffs and transfers do not mean Seagate will cease operations in the city.

``We're trying to strengthen our competitiveness . . . It's a challenging environment in high tech at this time,'' spokeswoman Kevan Goff-Parker said.

Seagate workers in Oklahoma City whose jobs are in jeopardy should be notified by June 1. The transition should be complete by Oct. 31. Goff-Parker said some jobs could be eliminated before or after the October date.

The California company has been in Oklahoma City, under different names, for nearly 40 years. In 1992, the company employed 3,300 but that has thinned to 1,300 because of layoffs, retirements and a shift of some jobs to Mexico.

The Oklahoma City division makes disk drives for everything from PlayStation 2 to personal computers to huge servers.

Spokesman Forrest Monroy said it's hard to say whether other Seagate employees in Colorado, Minnesota, Mexico or Singapore will lose their jobs in the coming months.

``We've been pretty aggressive in trying to increase the efficiency and productivity of operations,'' Monroy said. ``It's likely there will be targeted workforce reductions in some locations. When and where, I couldn't comment.''

Monroy said the Oklahoma City losses also do not mean the company is shifting more work overseas.

``Seagate isn't trying to simply reduce head-count, but it is trying to increase efficiency,'' he said. The company last week reported a net loss of $1.69 billion for the nine months that ended March 30. During the same period last year, net income was $79 million.

Restructuring accounted for part of that loss. In March 2000, Veritas Software and an investment group led by Silver Lake Partners announced a $20 billion deal to make California-based Seagate private.

``Previously, the operation there was one of four product sites, but as a result of efficiencies gained from our improved engineering processes, we feel we can increase our leverage and efficiency by reallocating Oklahoma resources to advanced technology development activities,'' Monroy said.

``This will significantly reduce our infrastructure cost while enabling us to continue to meet our customers' needs.''

Those losing their jobs range from production workers to engineers, said Mark Stuchlik, human resources director.

Monroy said Oklahoma City will continue to be of ``strategic importance to Seagate.''