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Varadkar says Ireland will be affected by Microsoft job losses

Varadkar is attending the World Economic Forum in Davos this week.

LAST UPDATE | 19 Jan 2023

TAOISEACH LEO VARADKAR has said that Microsoft has been in contact with the Irish government about it’s worldwide layoff of staff, stating that “Ireland will be affected by that”. 

Speaking to reporters at the World Economic Forum in Davos today, he said the company wants to talk to its employees first and added that it would not be appropriate for him to go into further detail. 

Job losses at Microsoft were announced earlier this week. The company employs 3,500 people in its Dublin office.

The company announced that it will layoff 10,000 employees in the coming months, as the economic downturn continues to punish US tech giants.

It is not yet known how many of the cuts will be made in the company’s Irish division, however, sources state the number is expected to be under 100 staff.

Varadkar was on a charm offensive upon his arrival in Davos yesterday evening, with his first engagement being an IDA Ireland event attended leading foreign direct investors. 

More than 50 industry leaders from IDA Ireland client companies and leading foreign direct investors in the Irish economy were in attendance.

While in Davos, the Taoiseach will also meet separately with senior representatives of multinational companies of significance to Ireland including Intel and Amazon. 

Retail giant Amazon, which employs some 5,000 people in Ireland, has also announced mass layoffs worldwide, though Varadkar previously said no job losses are currently anticipated for its Dublin branch.

Varadkar has also said recently that he’s been in touch with Intel, and “while we’ve no absolute guarantees from Intel, we’re not expecting significant job losses from that company”.

The computer chip giant is yet another technology multinational said to be planning global cutbacks with “headcount reductions” on the cards. 

Speaking today, the Taoiseach said there has been a resizing of the tech sector, with job losses of around 5% to 10%.

“That’s not to play it down in any way at all. But when there are job losses at that scale, it’s almost always possible to so through voluntary redundancies,” he said, adding that people are usually able to find re-employment in the sector.

Job losses in the tech sector, given its importance to the Irish economy, “is something we’re monitoring very closely”, said Varadkar.

“It’s something that we’re unduly concerned about at this stage,” he added. 

At last night’s IDA event, the Taoiseach used the opportunity to highlight “Ireland’s enduring economic potential, stability and strengths”. 

He emphasised that employment in Ireland is at record levels, and that Ireland has a rich pool of talented and innovative workers. Ireland’s plans to become a major offshore wind generator was also highlighted. 

When questioned about his attendance at the forum during yesterday’s Leaders’ Questions, Varadkar said it would be “remiss” of him not to attend. 

He said the event gives him the opportunity to meet with a number of politicians and company bosses in a short space of time. 

The Taoiseach is expected to have a number of political meetings including with Keir Starmer, the Leader of the UK Labour Party; Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, the Belarusian Opposition Leader; Samantha Power, Administrator USAID; the President of the European Parliament, Roberta Metsola; and the President of Moldova, Maia Sandu. 

People Before Profit TD Richard Boyd Barrett told the Taoiseach in the Dail prior to his departure for Davos yesterday that the recent Oxfam report revealed “the absolutely grotesque and growing inequality that exists between the super rich in this country and across the world”. 

He said it is was “shocking” how many people in Ireland have over €50 million and that personal wealth had doubled since 2012.

In response, Varadkar questioned the legitimacy of an Oxfam poverty report, saying that some billionaires are all “fur coat and no knickers”.

“We all know from past experience that some people who are billionaires on paper, or appear to be billionaires, are actually all fur coat and no knickers. They have a lot of money and assets on paper, but they also have a lot of debts and liabilities and their actual net wealth is negative or small,” he said.

Referring to the eight Irish billionaires mentioned in the report, he said “most of them do not live here, do not have their business based here and do not keep their assets here”.

“Why does the Deputy think this is? It is precisely because we have a tax regime that taxes wealth much more so than other countries,” he said. 

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