News Column

EnerSys Lays Off Workers

Dec. 6, 2012

Sue Sterling

About 130 EnerSys Energy Products employees, around 20 percent of the workforce, lost their jobs Saturday, Vice President of Operations Malcolm Gavant said Monday.

"I think we've stabilized," he said. "I don't expect further reductions."

Gavant said the plant, still employing more than 500 people, "is still a three-shift operation, just a little smaller."

Gavant blamed the layoffs on weaker global markets for lead batteries made at the plant under various brand names.

"The order pattern really dropped rapidly," he said, rather than gradually.

The production reduction decision came from upper management, Gavant said, but "actual mechanics of the layoffs was a local process."

He said layoffs affected the newest hires.

Some workers, but not all, probably suspected the reduction, he said.

The Christmastime timing is unfortunate, Gavant said.

"There's never a good time," he said.

Patti Carter, executive director of the Workforce Development Board of Western Missouri in Sedalia, said the group received company notification a few days earlier "so we could pull together a Rapid Response Team."

Staff from the Clinton and Nevada career centers, and a state staff member from Jefferson City, met with the employees Thursday and Friday, Carter said. On-the-job training or schooling funds, and federal benefits, are available "to try to help as many as possible to get back in the workforce."

Some 120 employees filled out paperwork, Carter said, including seven from Sedalia, 18 from Knob Noster, two from Odessa, and the remainder from Clinton, Leeton, Warrensburg, Centerview and the surrounding area.

A Clinton company has expressed interest in hiring some employees, Carter said. Workforce Development staff is helping with placement.

Carter said workers who completed surveys "are in the tracking system" at the career centers, but must file separately for unemployment benefits.

"I hope they will seek services through the career centers," Carter said, which offer workshops on topics such as resumes and interviewing.

Clients can access services at the Warrensburg Career Center, 205B N. Holden St., and at the Clinton and Sedalia centers.

Gavant said EnerSys had a similar layoff four or five years ago, but called back most employees over a year's time. After the latest layoffs, Gavant said he anticipates calling back workers eventually, but could not predict the time frame.

"We just don't know what's going to happen to business over a period of time," he said.

Distributed by MCT Information Services

Source: (c) 2012 The Daily Star-Journal (Warrensburg, Mo.)

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