Business & Finance

Attention shifted to the question of whether Northwest Airlines will make good on its vow to hire permanent replacements after contract negotiations with the Aircraft Mechanics Fraternal Association broke down at 1 a.m. Sunday, three days after resuming. The carrier's mechanics have been on strike for three weeks, and it has said it would begin hiring the replacements Tuesday unless a new deal was reached. Since submitting its "last, best offer" in mid-August, which would have preserved 2,750 mechanics' jobs, Northwest has decided it wants to lower that number to 1,080, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reported.

Hewlett-Packard was not commenting on published reports that it will cut 6,000 jobs in Europe, although a spokeswoman confirmed that the company had met in Brussels recently with labor leaders to discuss cost- cutting strategies. The Paris newspapers Le Figaro and Le Monde said they had learned that France, particularly, would be targeted for layoffs. The maker of computers and printers announced in July that it planned to eliminate 14,500 jobs, among other austerity measures, to try to save $1.9 billion a year in operating costs. Hewlett-Packard has assembly plants or offices in France, Germany, Britain, Ireland, Belgium, the Netherlands, Italy, and Spain.

Biogen Idec, a leading maker of drugs, announced the layoffs of 650 employees from its global workforce, most of them by year's end. The company said almost half of the cuts will come at its Cambridge, Mass., headquarters. It also plans to sell its San Diego, Calif., plant and the rights to a treatment for skin disorders.

Up to 250 jobs will be cut by truck builder Freightliner LLC when the company closes its Ladson, S.C., plant and moves some of its operations to facilities in Hamburg, N.Y., and Casper, Wyo. The Ladson plant, which makes fire trucks and other emergency-response vehicles under the trade name American La France, is being offered for sale. Freightliner is a subsidiary of DaimlerChrysle, which reportedly is considering as many as 10 potential buyers for the Ladson plant.

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