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Marconi Ruffles Former Employees

Marconi recently made a mistake in a letter to a handful of employees, adding insult to injury to a few who had just lost their jobs.

Light Reading has learned that when some Marconi workers were let go, the letters they received detailing their severance pay and benefits accidentally allotted manager-level benefits to front-line employees (or "individual contributors" in Marconi corporate parlance).

In one case, there was a difference of eight weeks' pay between the original severance letter and the corrected one, according to people familiar with the situation.

The company says it acknowledged the goof quickly and reissued some corrected letters to the affected employees immediately. A company spokesman says the erroneous letters were only sent to a few workers, numbering "barely into the double digits," in California.

On April 10, Marconi announced it was cutting 3,000 jobs, or 5 percent of its global work force. Half those cuts were in Britain, where it employs 20,000 of its 50,000 workers, the company said (see Marconi to Lay Off 3,000 ).

While the mistyped letters, then the corrected ones, caused some to get upset, on the whole those included in the most recent layoffs were treated well by Marconi, say those familiar with the situation. Those sources point out that the company was generous to let its U.S. workers have one year to exercise their vested employee options, which have cash value.

"I think that Marconi treated its employees well," says one source familiar with the matter. "But I would have been pretty pissed off if I'd gotten one of those letters."

-- Phil Harvey, Senior Editor, Light Reading http://www.lightreading.com
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