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HP cancels Christmas in the UK and Éire

Stationery party cupboard is bare for British and Irish workers

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Exclusive Hewlett-Packard has told its UK and Ireland-based staff that the computer giant won’t be funding their Christmas celebrations this year because of the worsening economic climate.

The company had originally divvied up £35 (€45) per head for its employees, who for much of the year have watched HP’s workforce dwindle under the helm of CEO Mark Hurd.

HP said in September it would axe 24,600 (7.5 per cent) of its workforce worldwide over the next two years.

Unsurprisingly, many HP staffers had been looking forward to letting their hair down at numerous Xmas bashes on the company tab.

But HP has now knocked Christmas funtimes on the head.

In a confidential memo addressed to HP staff and seen by The Register, the firm’s UK and Ireland managing director Steve Gill blamed the economy for HP’s decision to withdraw its Christmas party funds.

Here’s the bleak memo in full:

Since I provided this guidance the worldwide economic climate has significantly worsened and the challenges facing our organisation have increased inline with this.

As a result we have received specific instruction from our Worldwide Executive Committee that in light of the current economic environment, they are asking everyone at HP to more aggressively manage their cost structure to help ensure our continued success.

HP will not be funding any holiday celebrations or gatherings this year, including all company-expensed luncheons, after-hour parties and holiday gifts.

Therefore my original message relating to £ 35 / Euro 45 per head for team celebrations NO longer applies. To be fair to all teams, if you have already booked a celebration we ask you to cancel this immediately regardless of any payments made in advance.

We will continue with the Christmas lunches in our staff restaurants.

Please work with your management teams to ensure that everyone in the HP UK and Ireland organisation complies with this updated policy.

Regards, Steve

HP told us: "HP can confirm that we have announced to our employees to reduce our discretionary spending as part of our ongoing focus on operational efficiencies.

"These actions have been taken in order to keep the company competitive in the challenging economic environment."

If it's any consolation for HP's staff, they're in good company. According to The Guardian Morgan Stanley, Goldman Sachs and Barclays Capital have all cancelled Christmas events while RBS has imposed a thrifty £10 limit at its gig.

The story is similar in the US, with some staff at Charles Schwab staff footing the bill for their own parties, Cisco more or less scrapping the idea altogether, and other companies pushing festivities back into January to get better deals. ®

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