United Technologies' Sikorsky cancels shutdown-related furloughs

Reuters

NEW YORK, Oct 6 (Reuters) - Military contractor SikorskyAircraft, a division of United Technologies Corp, hascanceled temporary layoffs that had been scheduled to start onMonday, due to the U.S. government shutdown, spokesman PaulJackson said on Sunday.

The move, reported earlier by the Wall Street Journal, camein the wake of the decision by Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel torecall most of the Pentagon's own furloughed civilian workers.

United Technologies was one of several manufacturers thathad warned of furloughs and delays in the deliveries of productsas a result of the federal budget impasse. Many rely on federalworkers to inspect and approve their products, or receivegovernment funding for some of their operations.

Sikorsky, a large military contractor that makes Black Hawkand Seahawk helicopters and other aircraft for all five branchesof the U.S. armed forces, had announced last week that it wouldlay off nearly 2,000 workers beginning Monday, and possibly asmany as 5,000 if the shutdown continued into November.

Sikorsky's Jackson called Hagel's decision "a surprise," andtermed the company's cancellation of furloughs "great news."

Other big defense contractors adopted a wait-and-seeattitude.

Gordon Johndroe, vice president of worldwide media relationsof Lockheed Martin Corp, said "it's too early to tell"whether the company will carry out plans, announced last week,to furlough some 3,000 employees beginning on Monday. "We'llcontinue to be in close contact with the Pentagon and arehopeful that our programs and contracts can move forward."

On Friday, Lockheed Martin announced that the number ofemployees who faced furlough as a result of the governmentshutdown is expected to increase weekly in the event of aprolonged shutdown. The affected employees include those unableto work because the government facility where they perform theirwork is closed, because their work requires a governmentinspection that cannot be completed, or because the companyreceived a stop-work order.

Lockheed's military products range from the F-16 FightingFalcon to missile defense systems.

Aircraft maker Boeing Co said last week that itexpected any furloughs to be limited to employees in BoeingDefense, Space & Security, possibly beginning as early as thisweek.

"We have not received any information from our defensecustomers about plans to reinstate part of their workforce,"spokeswoman Meghan McCormick said on Sunday, "therefore it wouldbe inappropriate to speculate about what it might mean forBoeing employees and operations."

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