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GT Advanced to axe more than 700 jobs at Arizona sapphire plant

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Embattled sapphire maker GT Advanced Technologies on Thursday announced it will be eliminating more than 700 jobs at its plant in Mesa, Arizona, with the mass layoffs scheduled for completion by Dec. 15.

GT Advanced, which inked a $578 million deal to provide Apple with sapphire material, revealed its plans to permanently eliminate 727 jobs in a filing with the Mesa City Council, reports AZ Central. The company is required to furnish such information under the federal Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) Act.

According to GT's VP of human resources Linda Luman, who signed off on the filing, 524 production line workers, 108 technical jobs, 70 managers and 25 administrative positions will be liquidated by December. Employees who are to be let go were notified of the situation on Thursday, with layoffs expected to start next Tuesday.

Today's news is the latest development in GT's surprisingly rapid downfall. Initial signs of trouble came earlier this month when the company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection seemingly out of the blue. The firm's executives did not forewarn investors that problems were brewing, leading to a fast stock selloff that shed market value.

Following the bankruptcy filing, GT announced it would wind down sapphire production operations, but offered no further details as to what put the firm in such dire straits. Court documents later cited Apple's strict non-disclosure agreements as a reason for being tight-lipped about operations.

A court overseeing the case is currently deciding whether to make the details of Apple's arrangement with GT public, something Apple is arguing against by claiming the documents contain trade secrets.