Nokia asks for volunteer quitters

Nokia Corp. is asking 1,000 employees to quit their jobs.

The Finnish wireless equipment maker announced Tuesday a “global voluntary resignation package,” aimed at reducing its head count without firing anyone.

The company will accept applications starting March 1 and ending whenever 1,000 employees have applied, or May 31, whichever is later. As of December, the company had 128,445 employees worldwide.

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A Nokia Canada spokesperson confirmed the plan is open to Canadian employees but refused to answer additional questions.

“The terms and conditions of the package are in accordance with local practices and legislation,” Nokia stated in a press release.

Nokia announced last month its first-quarter revenues were 13.7 billion euros (about C$21.8 billion) and predicted shipments of mobile devices this year, for the industry, will be 10 per cent lower than in 2008. Revenues for 2008 were nearly 51 billion euros (about Cdn $80 billion).

The company has three locations in Canada, but would not say how many employees work here. According to data published by Nokia, it operates a research and development centre in Vancouver and its global enterprise solutions business, which includes tech support, in the Ottawa suburb of Kanata. Its head office is in Ajax, Ont., east of Toronto, where it also has a warehouse and distribution centre.

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Nokia stated Tuesday it is also asking employees to stop taking pay in lieu of vacation and is offering more unpaid leave to workers. The voluntary resignation program is not available to “direct labour and senior executives.”

The Nokia press release quoted Hallstein Moerk, its head of human resources, as stating: “If successful, the voluntary initiatives will lessen the need for involuntary redundancies.”

In November, Nokia predicted fewer shipments this year and as a result said it would “curtail” the use of external contractors

The move comes after Microsoft announced it would let 5,000 workers go and Intel announced layoffs.

Last month, IBM Corp. announced it was cutting staff and analysts speculated Canadian operations could be affected.

Other tech firms announcing staff cuts include Texas Instruments and Nortel Networks Corp., which is now operating under bankruptcy protection.

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