HP, Gateway furlough workers without pay over holidays

For the second year in a row, PC makers Hewlett-Packard and Gateway are requiring employees not directly involved in customer support to take five days off without pay this holiday season.

          For the second year in a row, PC makers Hewlett-Packard and Gateway are requiring employees not directly involved in customer support to take five days off without pay this holiday season.

          While HP workers can use accrued vacation days, a spokeswoman for Poway, California-based Gateway said its employees won't be able to do so.

          "This is unpaid time off," says Gateway spokeswoman Ashley Wood.

          Wood says the furloughs affect about 25% of Gateway's 10,000 employees in such departments as engineering, product development and administration. Last week, Gateway said fourth-quarter revenue may not meet expectations.

          The cost-cutting efforts by the two companies come as worldwide PC sales continue to suffer from the ongoing slowdown in the economy.

          IDC, a research firm in Framingham, Massachusetts, said last week that it expects worldwide PC shipments to be slow for the next several quarters, though it envisions a rebound next year that should continue into 2004.

          Workers at Dell Computer will get paid time off during the holidays, according to a spokesman, and IBM isn't requiring its employees to take any time off.

          HP spokeswoman Rebeca Robboy says contract workers worldwide who work in the company's internal computer operations will take off 20 work days between December 9, 2002 and January 20, 2003.

          In July, HP furloughed 4000 contractors in North America, a move that saved the company $US15 million.

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