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Caterpillar to close Oxford plant, eliminate 240 jobs

By JACK WEATHERLY

Caterpillar Inc. announced Thursday that it will shut down its Oxford plant and eliminate 240 jobs.

The shutdown will take 12 to 18 months and will not affect the Peoria, Ill.-based  heavy-equipment manufacturer’s operations in Corinth and Booneville, said spokeswoman Rachel Potts.

It is part of a restructuring announced in September in which 10,000 of its 114,000 jobs worldwide will be eliminated over three years. About 5,300 jobs have been eliminated.

The company blames lower global demand that has affected its financial performance.

Revenue in the first quarter, which ended March 31, was $9.5 billion, compared with $12.7 billion a year earlier, according to its filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Earnings were 46 cents per share, compared with $2.03 in the corresponding 2015 period.

Potts said that workers in Oxford would be offered a severance package, details of which she would not disclose. “There could be opportunities at other Caterpillar facilities,” Potts said, adding that is “a possibility, not a guarantee.”

That could include the operations in Corinth and Booneville, which are engaged in remanufacturing and employ the most in Caterpillar’s Mississippi operations, she said. In January, the company said that 45 jobs would be moved to those operations due to the restructuring.  At the end of 2015, the Caterpillar workforce in Mississippi stood at about 1,300 full-time employees, according to Potts.

“Caterpillar recognizes that these restructuring actions are painful for its dedicated workforce, their families and the impacted communities,” the company said in a news release. “The decisions are difficult. However, it is necessary to have the right capacity in place for the tough market conditions the company is facing.”

Potts said she would not try to predict where and when any further job cuts would be made during the three-year restructuring period. The restructuring is one thing, but the ever-changing marketplace is another, she said.

Four other facilities outside Mississippi will be closed, the company said in its release. The five closures will amount to 820 jobs.

Other facilities that will be shuttered are in Jacksonville, Fla., where 70 jobs will be lost; Morganton, N.C., 110 jobs, and 400 jobs will be eliminated with the closing of two plants in South Carolina.

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