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June 05--Amgen Inc. abruptly put about 70 people who work primarily in information services on paid leave this week.
Those employees will lose their jobs, but will continue to collect paychecks through Aug. 8. The bulk of the cuts were at Amgen's headquarters in Thousand Oaks.
"The majority of the positions were eliminated due to recently outsourced work," said spokeswoman Kristen Davis. "Each of the individuals notified was offered comprehensive severance benefits that provide cash, health insurance and career transition services."
Davis said the positions are primarily in the information systems department "with a small number in the commercial organization."
State law requires that employers give displaced employees and other state and local representatives 60 days notice in advance of mass layoffs to help protect employees, their families and communities. But the state didn't receive notice until Wednesday, the same day the company put the employees on 60 days paid leave of absence.
An Amgen information services employee who did not want to be named said the company cut his job Wednesday and it was "completely unexpected." He confirmed that he is receiving 60 days pay through Aug. 8.
The city of Thousand Oaks has not yet received the required notification letter, according to Economic Development Officer Haider Alawami. But he noted the city got a call about it. Alawami assumes the layoffs are due to restructuring.
"For the past six months of the year they've been laying off people here and there," he said. "That's all we know about what they're doing."
The biotech giant has about 6,000 employees in Thousand Oaks.
The job cuts come amid recent comments by Wall Street analyst Geoff Porges, concerning Amgen's stock performance, which has not been as strong as its competitors during the past 12 months. Porges has suggested the company is stuck in a rut, relying too heavily on legacy products. His remarks have driven discussion in publications such as Barron's and The Wall Street Journal's Pharmalot blog about whether Amgen is ripe for a breakup.
Asked about the break up talks, Davis replied: "Amgen regularly adjusts staffing levels to meet the needs of the business."
Shareholder Steve Silverman said: "If they are downsizing, I have only one thought, why? They have a tremendous pipeline and need the employees, unless they outsource some of the work."
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