Buckley Systems, the New Zealand-based manufacturer of the electromagnets used to create around 90 per cent of the world’s silicon chips, has laid off 45 staff.
Mark Stolten, Buckley System's chief operating officer, said the decision is all about creating a "flexible workforce".
“In this industry, it is inevitable that there will be times when we have to review numbers and it is always our absolute last resort but in the past we have re-hired on the upturn and we will certainly be looking to do that again," Stolten said.
12 of the 45 staff opted for voluntary redundancy, he says. The layoffs were made within administration, semi-skilled and in certain trade areas.
The company's electromagnets are used to implant the ions in silicon chips, but also in cancer treatment, in security scanners, in the manufacture of solar panels and flat-screen TVs, and to carbon-date objects and drive the particle accelerators.
Buckley Systems also manufactures complete charged particle beam line systems and high-vacuum equipment.
“Our workers understand the cyclical nature of our business. We have good networks with other employers in the area and we are actively seeking alternative employment opportunities for our affected workers.
“I’d like to confirm that this is not a decision that has been taken lightly – we fought to retain as many jobs as possible, and will retain 200 highly skilled workers."
Buckley Systems said the step was necessary to ensure the future viability of the business in the face of a cyclical downturn in sales and the continual strength of the New Zealand Dollar. Almost all of the company's production is for export.
“Our production systems and machinery are highly specialised – losing staff that have been trained to work in our manufacturing areas is a blow,” Stolten said.
“We have recently announced two executive appointments to lead our research programme and help ensure that Buckley Systems continues to stay at the forefront of the development curve in both product design and manufacturing techniques."