Sun puts heat on Kiwi staff

As plunging sales cause US-based Sun to slash 9% of its workforce, its New Zealand agent, SolNet, is also feeling the pinch.

As plunging sales cause US-based Sun to slash 9% of its workforce, its New Zealand agent, SolNet, is also feeling the pinch.

New Zealand industry sources say three jobs are to go in Auckland and two in Wellington in the technical and sales support areas. Sales staff are said to have been warned to “buckle up or be out”.

But SolNet general manager Mark Botherway says while SolNet is looking for cost savings, no decisions on job cuts have yet been made.

SolNet is looking at “fine-tuning” its business; any job-losses would be “very small” and more likely in the pre-sales and infrastructure areas.

The company employs 118 in New Zealand and Botherway says the cost-savings will be “pragmatic steps” taken in the next month or so, to ensure the firm remains “financially strong”.

Sun chiefs say 3900 of its 43,200 worldwide workforce will get the chop to save

costs, as preliminary numbers for the first quarter of fiscal 2002, ended September

30, show revenue slumping from $US4 billion last year to between $US2.7 billion and $US2.9 billion.

Sun head Scott McNealy says Sun is “resizing the company, not re-aiming it”. Because many of Sun’s key customers are airlines, telecommunications companies and other businesses that have been drastically affected by the US economic downturn and the recent terrorism, Sun is seeing related business dropoffs, he says.

The company’s finance chief, Michael Lehman, says business “virtually ground to a halt” in the two weeks after the September 11 attacks in New York and Washington.

He says there was an “unbelievable dividing line” in sales before the attacks and after them. But the business is still expecting profitability by the fourth quarter of 2002, ending next June.

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