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The vast majority of staffers at Hitachi's US disk drive center have been told to take an extended vacation whether they like it or not.

Hitachi Global Storage Technologies issued a memo this week to workers, telling them that a required vacation will take place between Dec. 24 and Dec. 31. Only 900 of the US facility's 3,300 staffers will remain onsite. Companies typically use these types of forced closers to save a bit of cash during slow business periods.

"We are gaining some cost-savings as a result," said a company spokeswoman. "This time of the year is typically very slow."

Hitachi GST was formed in 2003 when IBM sold off its hard disk drive business to the Japanese firm. The company now operates as a joint venture between Hitachi and IBM with Hitachi owning a majority stake.

Some 1,500 IBMers will still be working during the holidays as their Hitachi counterparts drink egg nog and take a rest for the hard drive rat race. We assume the old IBM contracts require the Big Blue staffers to remain onsite.

In October, Hitachi GST laid off close to 400 workers, trying to trim its bottom line. The spokeswoman, however, insisted that cost-savings are not the primary driver of the holiday closure. In fact, Hitachi will be performing some much needed electrical maintenance on its US facility, the spokeswoman said.

"It's not really a shutdown," she added.

An internal memo begs to differ.

"All employees, including contractor/vendor employees, are not expected to work during the shutdown," the memo said. "No employees - whether regular, supplemental or contractor/vendor - will be granted access to any of our US sites." ®

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