Dec 2, 2008

Business - Tata's Corus to cut work hours of 4,600 staff: report

AMSTERDAM (Reuters) – Tata Steel (TISC.BO) unit Corus has applied for Dutch government financial aid to temporarily reduce the work hours of 4,600 workers to cope with the global economic slowdown, Dutch news agency ANP reported on Monday.

Under the terms of the government support, if approved, Corus workers in the Netherlands would be paid 70 percent of their wage via unemployment benefits, while Corus would pay the other 30 percent over a period of six weeks, starting in January, a spokesman for trade union FNV told ANP.

Corus employs 11,300 workers in the Netherlands.

The arrangement can be extended up to three times, for a total period of 24 weeks and to qualify for the scheme, firms must have reported a 30 percent decline in sales in the past two months.

Dutch trade union De Unie said on its website Corus planned to apply for the government assistance and that it had reached an agreement with unions.

Corus was not immediately for comment.

The Dutch government announced a range of measures last month worth about 6 billion euros ($7.8 billion), or 1 percent of the country's GDP, to help support the flagging economy.

The government-funded shorter working times was one of the measures agreed and the Social Affairs Ministry said on Sunday 15 applications had been lodged for the work reduction scheme.

Applications came from businesses in the metal-electronics sector, car industry and transport sector, the ministry said.

(Reporting by Aaron Gray-Block; editing by Carol Bishopric)

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