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Eamonn Farrell

Intel offers workers at Kildare plant voluntary unpaid leave in effort to cut costs

It is not clear how many employees will be affected.

LAST UPDATE | 2 Dec 2022

TECH GIANT INTEL has offered workers at its plant in Kildare voluntary unpaid leave as it looks to cut costs.

It comes after the company recently indicated that it would need to move to cut thousands of jobs globally due to inflation and a slowdown in the market.

It is understood that an offer to take three months’ unpaid leave has been made to staff working in the manufacturing division of its Leixlip plant, where the majority of its 5,000 Irish workers are employed.

Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney said that the Government expects Intel’s cost cutting move to be a “short term measure,” and he emphasised the “enormous global investment” the company has made in Ireland. 

Speaking on Morning Ireland, Coveney that the situation is being “watched closely” by the government, and that the state is there to “support and protect employment in Ireland.”

Kildare TD James Lawless this morning said that Intel’s offer was not entirely unexpected as they have been “tremors” in recent weeks, but that having to Intel he is reassured that the company have no plans to move this from a voluntary to a mandatory scheme. 

Lawless said that this offer should be seen in the context of a “knock on from the global reaction” rather than a reflection of “confidence or commitment in the Leixlip plant.” 

However, the TD did say that staff at the plant are worried about their job security. 

“There are concerns among other services, among corporate services, HR, engineering, that if one team starts to go the other team will go next,” he said. 

Lawless stated that he believes that the overall “direction of travel” looks good for the plant, “because we did get a €‎12 billion commitment in March, there were 1600 jobs created there, and there’s been huge investment in the last 30 plus years.” 

He also pointed to the EU’s plans to manufacture more microchips in Europe as opposed to the likes of China, stating that because of “geopolitical” reasons the plant’s prospects look good in the “long term.” 

Labour spokesperson on worker’s rights, Marie Sherlock has said that Intel’s unpaid leave offer will send  a “chill” through workplaces across the country, as due to cost of operating difficulties, “it is likely other employers will offer temporary lay-offs.”

Sherlock said that in light of this the Government needs to improve their short term work scheme arrangements so that workers are offered “up to 80% of their pre-lay off income.” 

“To date, the Government’s response to challenges faced by companies in the form of the Temporary Business. Energy Support Scheme (TBESS) is a missed opportunity, with no conditions or incentives to retain jobs and protect incomes,” the senator further stated.

In a statement to workers, seen by The Journal, the company said: “During our recent earnings call, we announced significant steps to reduce costs and improve efficiencies, while mindfully protecting the investments needed to accelerate our transformation and position us for long-term growth.

“Retaining our manufacturing talent is a key element of positioning Intel for long-term growth. Voluntary time off programs allow us an opportunity to reduce short term costs and offer employees attractive time off options. Manufacturing talent represents an important element of our business here in Ireland,” the statement read. 

It is not clear how many employees will be affected.

Earlier this month, Tánaiste and Enterprise Minister Leo Varadkar said that he was not expecting significant job losses from Intel.

“We had good engagement with Intel as well in the last couple of days and while we’ve no absolute guarantees from Intel, we’re not expecting significant types of job losses from that company,” he said. 

In March, Intel announced that it was investing a further €12 billion into its operations in Ireland on top of the €5 billion it had already spent, bringing the company’s overall investment in its Kildare site to €30 billion.

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