Originally created 10/25/02

SRS says layoffs are not set

AIKEN - A Savannah River Site spokesman said Thursday that, although some site officials have speculated about future layoffs, the site's top management has not committed to a specific number.

Will Callicott, who handles communications for Westinghouse Savannah River Co., the contractor that runs the federal nuclear reserve, said only 52 more layoffs can be made at the site during the fiscal year under local authority.

There is, however, nothing to stop more extensive cuts from coming from the federal level, he said.

Mr. Callicott made the clarification while responding to questions about an internal site memorandum acquired by The Augusta Chronicle. The memo speculated the next round of layoffs at SRS will be in January but will be capped at 52.

"(Westinghouse President) Bob Pedde has made it pretty clear there will be an additional involuntary separation in January," wrote the memo's author, Thomas Thome, the manager of site utilities.

The Oct. 14 memo was sent to his staff. Mr. Thome was attempting to calm fears about mass layoffs after cuts made Oct. 9 left 48 people unemployed and Westinghouse forecast more cuts.

Mr. Callicott said any number of layoffs exceeding 52 during the fiscal year would have to be approved by Department of Energy officials in Washington, and possibly even Congress.

In his memo, Mr. Thome pointed out a federal law that requires a 120-day separation warning. If his workers were to be affected in any January cuts, they would have been notified by now, he said.

Mr. Callicott said the 2002-03 fiscal year restructuring plan the site is working under serves as that notice.

"There's no need to reissue any 120-day notification for any actions taken as part of the plan," Mr. Callicott said.

Any layoff announcement would come from Mr. Pedde, he said.

Reach Eric Williamson at (803) 279-6895 or eric.williamson@augustachronicle.com.


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