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Time Computers lays off more staff

Morale below rock-bottom

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The PC sales downturn still seems to be hitting Time Computers hard. The company is making between 9 and 12 people redundant from its returns department, and Time's manufacturing business VMT is slashing headcount by 15. The workers will leave on Friday.

Staff seem particularly upset by this latest move by the troubled manufacturer/retailer. This is because they say CEO Brian Lynn said there'd be no more redundancies when he gave a pep talk to the workforce on 18 May.

Staff had been very nervous when that meeting had been tabled. Time was founded and run by Tahir Mohsan and his half-brother Dr Tariq Mohammed, and the arrival of Lynn hadn't been formally announced to them. They were surprised 'the family' had let someone else handle day-to-day running of the business and were wondering what this new bloke would have to say.

Lynn actually gave an encouraging talk, and chatted about the challenges Time faced, and left the remaining employees feeling more confident about their and the company's future. The company had spent the previous months shedding all staff on temporary contracts and sources within the company told us that before Christmas there were 2840 workers at the main factory, be they direct employees, or long term temps, and by mid-May there were 1,600.

In another move to aid its finances Time was in court last week claiming £2.2 million in lost earnings and damages from distributor C2000. The argument dates back to 1994 when Time bought 4,000 IBM Blue Lightning PCs from C2000, which was called Frontline Distribution at the time. The PCs contained Gala mobos which had been assembled using a faulty chipset. The Time/C2000 case was adjourned after two days of argument, and both parties are back in court early next month.

Time is no stranger to these kinds of fights. Back in December 2000 Time sued IBM for £3 million in the New York State Supreme Court. It alleged IBM committed fraud and sold it memory chips IBM knew to be defective back in 1994. We don't know the outcome of that one because both parties haven't been very chatty about it. But in July 2000, Time settled a £13 million compensation claim with IBM UK over the same issue.

Time is also looking to clinch the sale of its call centre to bring cash back into the business, and we've been told a deadline has been set for the end of this month. Time started building the1,000-person centre a while back, on the company's site near Burnley, and it was expected to be operational in time for Christmas 2000.

It was finished in February 2001. The building is valued at about £3.5 million, not including the land it's on. In May there were three parties interested in buying it: a government agency; a credit checking business; and Reality, the e-fulfillment subsidiary of Great Universal Stores. ®

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