Lucent Technologies said on Tuesday that it plans to trim more than 1,700 staff or one per cent from its US work force by the end of the year.
The telecoms equipment supplier's European subsidiaries will not be affected, however.
A company spokesman said that 1,200 of the affected workers would be technicians and would be offered voluntary early retirement.
Another 200 of their managers will also go, while the remaining 280, which currently work at the company's customer care centres in Tucson, Arizona and Silver Spring, Maryland, will be made redundant.
The centres will close and the work reassigned to other centres. "It's a case of being able to consolidate operations," the spokesman said.
He claimed: "We're making greater use of remote diagnostics, which has resulted in fewer onsite repairs and those are taking less time. Also, we're no longer installing wiring at companies so we don't need as many technicians."
But he added: "I don't anticipate any problem reaching the 1,200 number through a totally voluntary programme. Nearly two thirds of the technicians are eligible for two years' severance pay and a full pension."
The employees from the affected customer care centers will be given the chance to find other jobs within Lucent and be provided with relocation expenses if they find them. Lucent will also help them find employment at other companies, the spokesman attested.
"We realise that this is a difficult situation and we're trying to minimise problems," he said, but added that the company has not yet decided on compensation for the technicians' managers.
But Jeff Miller, communications director for the Communications Workers of America, which represents most of the affected workers, said the union was unhappy with the situation.
"While we think we've negotiated some good protections and provisions in the contract for our members, we're not happy about the job cuts, which we think are unnecessary," he explained.
And he added that Lucent was contractually obliged to offer his members with the severance packages provided: "We have negotiated several provisions for layoffs and surplus labour situations into our contract. One of them is the severance package when voluntary terminations are offered."
Lucent stock closed down $0.34 at $64.66 on Tuesday.
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