Eight months after moving the focus of its center for portable phone manufacture from Le Mans, France, to New Jersey, Philips Electronics NC has decided that its worldwide center for cellphone repair will also move from Le Mans to Reynosa, Mexico, said a Saturday report in Les Echos. A Mexican works for $5, and the labor costs for repair work are much higher than for manufacture. At least that is what management says, said Yvette Tremblais, a CFDT union official. The changes, say the paper, are largely the result of Philips’ partnership agreement with Lucent Technologies Inc. But French labor officials were happy to report that they had saved the majority of the 300-odd jobs (230 temp workers) involved in after-sales service at the Le Mans plant. CFDT announced a good agreement in which the 77 full-time employees would be transferred to other Philips departments in Le Mans and the temps with more than 18 months of service will get a job title. Philips management also said it would rehire the most recently hired temp workers as soon as the need arose. We are more or less satisfied, even though we would obviously have preferred to keep the repair activity in France, said Tremblais. The union said further that it hopes the Le Mans site will, as Philips management has implied, become specialized in value-added services, so as to limit the threat from low-wage countries.
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