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Second round of layoffs begins at SRS; resource center to open in March

SRS sign

The first round of Savannah River Site involuntary layoffs planned for 2011 has begun. (February 24, 2011 / WRDW-TV)

News12 First at Five / Thursday, February 24, 2011

AIKEN CTY, S.C.---Hundreds of people are being laid off this week at SRNS.

Last year Savannah River Site announced plans to lay off around 1400 workers. The first 328 decided to leave or retire early. They got one week's pay for every year on the job--up to 26 years.

Now SRNS workers are dealing with the second phase of layoffs. The question many are asking is, what happens next?

Many of those being let go this week are now looking for help. A Resource Center is set to open next month. It's located on Park Avenue and will be on the 2nd floor. The lights may be off now and things are quiet, but people are preparing for the crowd to come. The Outplacement Center will be a lifeline to those now left without jobs.

Don Arthur wants to help laid-off SRNS employees. He was at the Resource Center this morning to see if he could help. "Having seen it from both sides of the table, I wanted to come over here and see how I can be part of it," he said.

Don's been working as an Outplacement Consultant for more than 15 years and knows how it's changed his life. When he was laid off years ago, he was depressed and his resume wasn't working for him. He got the help he needed from a Resource Center.

"I do know that when people don't have this service, they don't know where to go," he said. "They're lost." Don says he knows that because he was lost when he found himself without a job.

The Transition Center will be set up to help workers with interview skills so they can search for a new place to work. "It's such a great service, such a great benefit," Don said.

The Resource Center that SRNS is setting up is expected to help give workers some direction so they don't feel hopeless. "I've seen a lot of people get laid off, and it wasn't long before they dropped into depression," Don said.

The plan is for workers to get help with resume writing. The center will also help them search for jobs and connect them with potential employers. That's where Rick McLeod comes in. He's the Executive Director of the Community Reuse Organization, and he'll be working with the Center to help place people with those who are hiring.

"We know Plant Vogle of course is going to be hiring folks," he said. "We also know there are some organizations on the site that may be hiring folks even though SRNS may be having to lay off some folks."

Don ended up making a Resource Center his career as another round of workers begin looking for their own new path.

Initial reports suggest 600 to 700 SRNS workers will be laid off this week. However, since more than 300 people took buyouts in December, which was more than they expected, there may be fewer layoffs now. The official numbers are expected to come out shortly.

Some people aren't happy that the Resource Center isn't open this month, because they're saying help is needed now. But SRS officials say employees have been given severance packages. One of the reasons the Center will open next month is because they're still organizing all the companies they'll be working with, and that, they say, takes time.

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