News In Brief

Bridgestone/Firestone said it will close the plant in Decatur, Ill., that made most of the 6.5 million tires recalled last year due to tread-separation problems. The closure, expected by Dec. 31, will idle about 1,500 workers. Work performed in Decatur, one of the company's oldest plants, will be transferred to other US facilities, a statement said.

Nokia, the world's top maker of cellphones, will lay off up to 1,000 workers by year's end, a statement said. All will be in its networking division. Until now, the Finnish company had avoided the deep layoffs announced by rivals Ericsson, Nortel, Motorola, and Siemens, but it warned three weeks ago of weaker-than-expected earnings in the second quarter.

In a triple blow to the fiber-optics industry, three major companies announced the need to make deep cuts in their payrolls. JDS Uniphase, based in San Jose, Calif., and Ottawa, said it would announce with its earnings report next month how many employees would be laid off, indicating "there are likely to be additional reductions" on top of the 5,000 made public in April. JDS is the world's largest supplier of fiber-optic equipment. Meanwhile, a 44 percent cut in its work force, 800 jobs, was announced by debt-ridden 360networks Inc. The Vancouver, British Columbia-based company serves customers in North and South America and Europe. And the first of an estimated 450 cuts will be made Monday by Williams Communications Group, a senior executive said. The company operates a 33,000-mile nationwide network for Internet providers, telephone utilities, and other clients. Its headquarters are in Tulsa, Okla.

In other layoff news:

* Deere & Co., the maker of lawn tractors and agricultural machinery, said it will cut 1,250 salaried jobs via a voluntary early retirement program aimed at saving $90 million a year. The company is based in Moline, Ill.

* Prudential Securities, a unit of the giant Prudential Insurance Co. of America, announced 550 layoffs.

(c) Copyright 2001. The Christian Science Monitor

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