Noranda announces more layoffs at New Madrid plant

Friday, December 5, 2008

NEW MADRID, Mo. -- Fifty salaried employees at Noranda Aluminum learned Thursday their jobs were being eliminated, effective immediately.

And another 54 hourly workers will lose their jobs at the plant by the first quarter of 2009, said Keith Gregston, president and general manager of the New Madrid plant.

Gregston said the move is due to economic challenges affecting the aluminum industry.

"Nobody likes to deliver those messages," Gregston said. "We worked together a long time with these people.

"The economic conditions dictate what we do," he said. "This will keep our company sustainable."

Gregston said all salaried employees will receive severance packages.

This is the third round of layoffs since early November.

Earlier this week management announced that 89 employees would be losing their jobs at the New Madrid facility by the end of the day Wednesday. Thirty-five employees at the facility were laid off Nov. 1.

Thursday's announcement brings the total number who will lose their jobs by early next year to 228.

Gregston didn't speculate on if any of the employees could be rehired at a later date.

"We are sensitive to the impact this will have on affected employees, their families and the communities in which they live and work," said Layle K. Smith, chief executive officer and president of Noranda Holding Corp., in a written statement.

"As hard as these decisions were to make, it is critical that we react to the current economic environment and control our costs, improve our productivity and continue to provide quality products at a competitive value.

"We remain committed to our customers, communities, co-workers and investors, striving to build sustainable relationships that will endure for years to come," the statement said. "We must, therefore, achieve success in the short-term to build towards our long-term future."

The cutbacks are part of a companywide restructuring plan that involves a reduction of employees and contract workers. In addition to the employees at the New Madrid plant, 96 workers at facilities in Huntingdon, Tenn., Salisbury, N.C., and Newport, Ark., are expected to lose their jobs by the end of the year.

The move is expected to generate cash cost savings and operating efficiencies of about $23 million.


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