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Layoff: corporate buzzword, 2009?

If “bailout” was the most used word in the year 2008, “lay-off” may just be it in 2009. Mahua Venkatesh tells more.

business Updated: Dec 23, 2008 21:10 IST
Mahua Venkatesh

If “bailout” was the most used word in the year 2008, “lay-off” may just be it in 2009.

But take heart. Some sectors are neutral, some even positive on hiring despite an economic slowdown. While manufacturing is hit badly, most of the lay-offs so far have been in companies hit by the US financial crisis. Insurance companies and sturdy domestic banks, in fact, may be hiring more.

The reality, however, is that “lay-off” is here as part of the lexicon, and no longer a stranger.

Industry insiders say for the corporate sector, the worst may be yet to come.

All indications are that the coming year will spell bad news and the pressure on jobs is expected to continue.

“Lay-offs are a reality in today’s context with shrinking profit margins across companies and a slowdown in growth,” a senior executive at a multinational company told HT. Sectors like civil aviation and financial services, arguably, are the worst impacted. The auto industry, which has also taken a beating due to the slowdown, could resort to job cuts in the coming year.

“The silver lining is that India, with strong fundamentals, will be one of the first countries to bounce back,” said Arjun Srivastava, consultant at global headhunting firm Egon Zehnder.

The last quarter of 2008 has seen all quarters of corporate India trying to cut cost and resorting to “rightsizing” of workforce. American Express, Citibank and HSBC have already announced their decisions to cut jobs.

Sources in Amex and Citi say there could be more retrenchment during the next year. ICICI Bank has also indicated that there could be “rightsizing.”

Earlier during the year, Jet Airways laid off its executives only to reinstate them because of political pressures.