HP to Cut 5,900 Jobs in Europe

Hewlett-Packard Co. (HPQ) is cutting 5,900 jobs in Europe as part of its global restructuring plan announced in July, the maker of computers and printers announced Monday.

HP did not say how many of the cuts would be voluntary or give a breakdown of the number of jobs to be shed in each country. HP's European spokeswoman Anette Nachbar said the company was under a legal obligation in many countries to inform workers' representatives before announcing the cuts.

"The local consultation processes are still ongoing," Nachbar said. She confirmed that the 5,900 European layoffs are part of a plan announced in July to cut 14,500 jobs worldwide and overhaul HP's retirement plan in order to save $1.9 billion a year.

HP France, the French arm of the company, confirmed that 1,240 jobs will be shed in France, where the company employs about 4,800 workers.

Germany's IG Metall (search) trade union said HP had not yet notified staff representatives of any job cuts there but that an announcement on possible reductions was expected this week.

Palo Alto, Calif.-based HP employs about 44,000 workers in Europe, the Middle East and Africa, but Nachbar said the company does not disclose the numbers of people it employs in individual countries.

HP is fighting to stay competitive with formidable rivals like International Business Machines Corp. (IBM) in the high-end market and Dell Inc. (DELL) in budget PCs.

Announcing the French job cuts, HP France said the layoffs had been decided "to safeguard the future" of the company.

Although the cuts will not contribute significantly to France's jobless rate — currently at 9.9 percent — they come at a sensitive time for President Jacques Chirac's conservative government as it struggles to contain union protests against labor-market reforms and boost flagging economic morale.

France's Deputy Labor Minister Gerard Larcher said he will meet HP executives Friday to discuss the planned cuts, vowing to "make sure the company takes all its responsibilities toward the employees concerned."

Michel Destot, the Socialist deputy mayor of the southern France city of Grenoble — where HP has one of its French plants — said the layoffs were "unacceptable" and demanded that HP managers also meet local politicians to discuss scaling back the job cuts.

"We have the capacity in France to have Hewlett-Packard sites that can develop," Destot said in an interview with France-2 television.

Shares of Hewlett-Packard fell 5 cents to $27.68 on the New York Stock Exchange. The stock has traded in a range between $17.59 and $27.98 over the last 52 weeks.