Cat may re-hire sacked workers: Obama

Recent months have seen Caterpillar begin laying off staff, with plans to axe 20,000 workers from its operations worldwide as demand for construction, mining and agricultural machinery falls. Speaking in Virginia on Wednesday ahead of a visit to a Caterpillar plant in Illinois yesterday, Obama highlighted the urgency of the package –called the American Recovery and Reinvestment Plan – which would boost the US construction industry. “Today, the chairman of Caterpillar said that if the American Recovery and Reinvestment Plan passes, his company would be able to re-hire some of those employees,” Obama said. Obama’s comments came before an announcement from Caterpillar which said it was looking to further reduce staff by offering incentive packages for early retirement to 2000 of its employees. The employees work at Caterpillar facilities in Illinois, Colorado, Tennessee and Pennsylvania. “In offering this package, our intent is to provide eligible employees the opportunity to retire early as we expect significant declines in all geographic regions, in most industries, due to difficulties in the global economy,” said Sid Banwart, Caterpillar’s vice president with responsibility for the human services’ division. Caterpillar said eligibility for the package is based on a combination of age and credited service. The company said that depending on business conditions, more voluntary and involuntary workforce reductions may be required as the year unfolds.

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