Originally created 10/11/05

444 workers offer to leave

AIKEN - Almost 450 people have volunteered to leave Savannah River Site by month's end, officials said Monday, a situation that will likely mean fewer involuntary layoffs at the nuclear reservation.

Westinghouse Savannah River Co., which manages SRS for the U.S. Department of Energy, announced last month that it was looking for employees who wanted to leave in an effort to reduce the number it had to let go.

At the end of Friday, 444 people had signed up to leave, according to a message sent to company employees. The number is expected to grow by Wednesday, the last day to apply for the early-exit option.

Company officials still must review and approve applications. Depending on how badly employees are needed, they might be asked to stay on between three and nine months.

Some applicants might not qualify to leave early.

However, the company expects to approve 90 percent of its early-departure applicants, spokeswoman Mickie Seitter said.

Those who are approved will be notified Oct. 19 or 20. Some will leave the site as early as Oct. 31, and all of those approved will receive 60 days' pay and a week's pay for each year they worked at SRS, as long as 25 years.

Westinghouse's voluntary-departure offer is part of the third and final phase of work force reductions that started in February.

Between earlier voluntary departures and forced layoffs, Westinghouse already has shed about 1,200 jobs this year. The company currently employs about 8,900 people, Ms. Seitter said. Including employees with the DOE and federal government, security and construction, 11,270 people are employed at SRS, she said.

Westinghouse planned to release as many as 800 people during the current round of layoffs, according to plans the company announced in February. While it can't lay off more than 800 people, it might lay off fewer, depending on the pool of employees who apply to leave early and the work that needs to be completed, Ms. Seitter said.

Reach Josh Gelinas at (803) 648-1395, ext. 111, or josh.gelinas@augustachronicle.com

SRS layoffs

The company that runs Savannah River Site announced in February that it would lay off between 600 and 800 people during its third phase of work force reductions, which is currently under way.

Almost 450 people have volunteered to leave early, at least some of whom will leave the site Oct. 31. Wednesday is the last day employees can volunteer to leave.


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