Sikorsky pulls back on shutdown-related furloughs

NEW YORK (AFP) - Sikorsky, maker of the UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter, has dropped plans to furlough thousands of workers without pay because of the US government shutdown, a spokesperson said Sunday.

The United Technologies affiliate pulled back after the Pentagon announced it was recalling most of its estimated 400,000 furloughed civilian workers despite the shutdown.

"We're relieved that the temporary layoffs and further disruption have been avoided. Our focus now turns to restoring full production levels," the Sikorsky spokesman said.

The US government shut down on Oct 1 after the House and Senate, at loggerheads over a Republican measure to defund President Barack Obama's signature health care law, failed to pass a temporary spending measure to fund government operations at the start of a new fiscal year.

Sikorsky said on Oct 2 that, in the absence of Pentagon inspectors, it would have to furlough 2,000 employees starting Oct 7, and that the number would climb to 5,000 if the impasse lasted until next month.

Defence contractor Lockheed Martin also had said it might have to idle 3,000 people beginning Oct 7 for the same reason.

A spokesman for Lockheed Martin said on Oct 6 it was still too early to tell whether the Pentagon's decision to recall civilian employees would avert those furloughs.

"We'll continue to be in close contact with the Pentagon and are hopeful that our programmes and contracts can move forward."