The reputation of a 'slash and burn' employer
Friday 02 April 1993
A week later - on New Year's Eve - as a result of a decision to box Timex watches in the Philippines where they are assembled, another 75 employees at the Torrington packaging plant were let go, many of whom had spent more than 30 years working for the company.
While few were surprised by the lay-offs or by the closure of Timex's last mechanical-watch plant in nearby Waterbury, community leaders in the company's home base say they were angered to discover that the 150 Torrington workers had to fight for severance pay.
'Only after we held town meetings and threatened to picket local shopping malls did Timex agree to meet with them,' said Merrill Gay, of the Naugatuck Valley Project, a coalition of citizens from the area's decaying mill towns.
According to Timex, however, the company did not refuse to meet the workers; talks were held later because some issues remained 'to be clarified'.
Timex, advertised as the US's last domestic watch manufacturer, has a reputation as a 'slash and burn' employer in Waterbury, where it was founded 135 years ago.
Global competition may make the transfer of jobs to the Philippines and Thailand inevitable, 'but it's clear they could have been a lot more civil to people who have spent 25 and 30 years of their life working for the company,' said Bob Piasecki, a local business journalist who followed the protracted severance dispute.
The workers were finally given a settlement roughly equal to a week's pay for each year's service, to a maximum of 10 weeks, plus dollars 256 (pounds 175) Christmas bonus. The company also agreed to contribute dollars 40,000 (pounds 27,400) to a local retraining fund.
Timex, controlled by Fred Olsen, a Norwegian-US engineer who owns the Olsen shipping line, with world-wide sales estimated at about dollars 500m (pounds 340m), outsells its next four US competitors combined. President Bill Clinton wore a Timex watch when he gave his State of the Union message to Congress in February.
'He has sported a Timex for at least four or five years,' said Susie Watson, a company spokeswoman, who added that Mr Clinton 'was just being a good Arkansas governor.' Little Rock is the site of Timex's only US manufacturing plant, employing 700 people to make watch cases that are shipped to the Far East for assembly and reimportation. Which explains why Timex, supposedly the US's only domestic watchmaker, has had Arkansas politicians pressing Washington to abandon the 14 per cent tariff on imported watches.
With the closure of its Waterbury plant last May, Timex maintains only a distribution centre and its corporate headquarters in the state, with fewer than 350 employees.
Now even that minimal presence may be threatened. A rumour, traced back to a local property broker, has it that Timex is considering moving its remaining facilities to a site near Raleigh, north Carolina - like Arkansas, a state with anti-union labour laws.
'That's news to me,' Ms Watson said in an interview this week.
Diving in at the deep end is no excuse for shirking the style stakes
- 1 World Cup 2014: 20 things we learned in Brazil
- 2 Why I'm on the brink of burning my Israeli passport
- 3 War is war: Why I stand with Israel
- 4 L'Oreal cuts ties with Belgium supporter Axelle Despiegelaere after hunting trip photographs
Game of Thrones author George RR Martin says 'f*** you' to fans who fear he will die before finishing Westeros saga
Ian Thorpe gay: Olympic swimmer comes out in Parkinson interview
Pamplona bull run: Man who contributed to a survival guide for the festival falls foul of the raging beasts
Israel-Gaza conflict: William Hague calls for ceasefire but says Israel 'has the right to defend itself'
Supermoon 2014: When and why will the moon look bigger and brighter this summer?
Sustained immigration has not harmed Britons' employment, say government advisers
War is war: Why I stand with Israel
7/7 memorial defaced on anniversary of 2005 attacks with ‘Blair lied thousands died’ graffiti
Australia facing international condemnation after turning around Sri Lankans at sea
Even when it brutalises one of its own teenage citizens, America is helpless against Israel
Socialist Worker called to apologise over ‘vile’ article saying Eton schoolboy Horatio Chapple's death is ‘reason to save the polar bears’
£70000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Information Security Manager (ISO 27001, A...
£30000 - £45000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# Developer (...
£60000 - £80000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# Integration...
£75000 - £85000 per annum + ex bens: Deerfoot IT Resources Limited: Biztalk Te...