- Associated Press - Tuesday, March 3, 2015

KEKAHA, Hawaii (AP) - Global agribusiness company Syngenta AG has laid off nearly two dozen employees on Kauai.

Monday’s layoffs of 23 people are a part of a companywide effort to cut $1 billion in costs by 2018, Syngenta Hawaii spokesman Mark Phillipson told The Garden Island newspaper (https://bit.ly/1GgK5nx ).

Those affected are at all levels of the company, including top management, he said.

Affected employees have been given a minimum of three months’ salary as severance, and their medical benefits will be paid through the end of the summer. Those with the company longer will receive an additional two weeks’ salary for every year of service.

Syngenta has asked WorkWise Kauai to help those laid off find new jobs.

Phillipson said the Kekaha operation is a tight group and he knew most of the affected workers personally.

“That is what makes this so hard,” he said. “But the company is treating them with dignity and they deserve it, and we will do our best to help them find new employment.”

WorkWise Kauai Branch Manager Eric Nordmeier said the job center is considering hold an unemployment orientation for the former employees at the end of March.

Syngenta is one of several companies researching and developing genetically engineered crops in Hawaii.

In a November news release from company headquarters in Basel, Switzerland, Syngenta International AG CEO Mike Mack said the Accelerating Operational Leverage program was to simplify structure and key global functions. This includes moving certain activities to lower-cost locations, increasing profitability and maintaining focus on innovation.

Syngenta has more than 28,000 employees in over 90 countries. For Kauai, it means that operations will shift and Syngenta won’t be doing as many projects as in the past, Phillipson added.

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Information from: The Garden Island, https://thegardenisland.com/

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