Communications Satellite Corp. confirmed yesterday that it had laid off between 25 and 30 employes from its Gaithersburg laboratories and said that more layoffs could be expected as the company continued its "cost-cutting" program.
The research and development facility released approximately 5 percent of its 550 employes--mainly in the support staff area, said a Comsat spokesman. According to one of the laid-off employes, the workers were given a notice of dismissal, told to hand in their ID cards and then taken to the parking lot where their entry stickers were removed from their cars. No advance notice of the firings was reportedly given.
However, Comsat says that temporary ID cards were issued to the dismissed employes and that they were expected to take advantage of an outplacement firm Comsat had hired to help them find new jobs. According to the spokesman, the workers were personally informed by their supervisors of their dismissals and fired workers will receive a month's pay, unused vacation pay plus severance benefits based on years worked at Comsat.
The spokesman declined to confirm reports that Comsat would announce further lay-offs at its L'Enfant Plaza headquarters later this week but did say that plans for "reductions in force are under way."
There are roughly 1,000 employes at Comsat's headquarters and sources indicate that lay-offs will number between 150 to 250 employes before the year is over. In addition, Comsat began an early retirement program this month that will conclude at the end of October which should also reduce the company's employment level.
These moves are a part of what industry analysts say is an effort to slice the company's significant overhead and bolster its image on Wall Street as an aggressive cost-conscious company.
Comsat is the U.S. representative to Intelsat, the global satellite communications consortium, and is part owner of Satellite Business Systems, the McLean, Va.-based telecommunications company. The company also owns Satellite Television Corp., which plans to launch a direct satellite-to-home broadcast television service before the end of next year.