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HP plans up to 1,000 layoffs

Hewlett-Packard significantly reduces its workforce as it turns to independent contractors to make its ink jet printers.

Hewlett-Packard (HWP) announced today that it is significantly reducing its workforce at a plant in Washington state as it turns to independent contractors to manufacture its ink jet printers.

It remains unclear whether the move to outside labor will take hold in four other HP locations where the popular printers are made.

HP spokeswoman Beth Quartarolo estimated that the company's decision to trim 1,000 of the 3,000 workers employed at its Vancouver, Washington, site would save $100 million per year. She stressed that every employee affected would be offered a job elsewhere in the company, as well as assistance with relocation.

The cuts will touch both rank-and-file employees as well and middle managers, she added.

HP said in a press release that increased demand for lower-priced products fueled the company's decision to turn to outside contractors. It remained unclear if those pressures might lead to similar staff reductions in the four other HP sites that manufacture ink jet printers, which include San Diego, Barcelona, Singapore, and Shanghai. A spokeswoman in HP's main corporate office said she couldn't speculate on the matter.

Today's cuts come on the heels of the layoffs of 200 employees in HP's Vancouver site, which were announced in January as the company closed its printed circuit operation.

In other HP news, the company today unveiled the HP DeskJet 1120C Professional Series, its newest color ink jet printer. The midrange product is expected to be priced at $499.

The 1120C, intended to replace the DeskJet 1000 Series printers, prints 6.5 ppm (pages per minute) for black and 4.5 ppm for color. It supports Microsoft's Windows NT, Windows 95, Windows 3.x, and DOS platforms, and is preinstalled with software features such as print previewing and zooming technology, which allows users to enlarge or reduce a document without sacrificing its resolution.