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HP cuts may include hundreds in Singapore

Hewlett-Packard could lay off hundreds of workers from its Singapore operations, sources within the company say.

SINGAPORE--Hewlett-Packard could lay off hundreds of workers from its Singapore operations, sources within the company said.

About 10 percent of HP's workforce on the island could be given pink slips as early as Wednesday, the sources said, as part of plans announced last month to cut 6,000 workers worldwide amid a deepening economic slump. HP currently employs more than 6,000 employees in the country.

Manufacturing and marketing operations will be hardest hit, sources said.

HP spent $100 million to open a Singapore plant to produce microchips used in its inkjet printer cartridges worldwide.

Sources said that supervisors at HP's Singapore operations started speaking to affected employees Monday. But HP Asia-Pacific spokeswoman Cecilia Pang denied such talks had begun.

In addition, sources said about 30 out of approximately 400 employees in Malaysia could possibly be laid off, with most staff cuts coming from the marketing and administration departments.

Pang refused to confirm or deny the number of job cuts in Singapore and Malaysia, reiterating that HP will not release detailed figures. "I'm not confirming any country-by-country figures because of legal and other reasons," she said.

The computer and printer maker currently employs about 14,000 employees in the Asia-Pacific region (including Japan).

Pang had earlier indicated that the company would start its restructuring process in Singapore this week. "The implementation of the job cuts will vary in different countries because of various local labor laws," she said.

The decision to slash workers in Asia comes more than a month after HP asked employees to take a pay cut, vacation or a combination of both to help cut costs.

Meanwhile, it is uncertain if HP will proceed with its plan to recruit an additional 1,000 consultants and technical support staff in the Asia-Pacific region to bulk up its IT services unit. In May, Cheah Kean Huat, HP Asia-Pacific vice president and general manager (services), said that he expected the number of consultants to hit 4,000 by October 2003 as part of the company's effort to boost its consulting business.

HP employs about 88,000 workers worldwide.

Staff writer Anand Menon reported from Singapore.