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Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg. (File) Blondet Eliot/ABACA
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Government 'will be there to help' as Irish job losses at Meta expected to begin this morning

The Tánaiste says he is ‘confident’ Meta ‘will honour all their legal obligations in relation to redundancy information and consultation’.

LAST UPDATE | 9 Nov 2022

THE GOVERNMENT WILL be there to help people in the tech sector who are facing redundancy.

That’s the message from Tánaiste Leo Varadkar as Meta, the parent company which owns Facebook and Instagram, is reported to begin laying off staff this morning.

According to a report in The Wall Street Journal, Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg “appeared downcast” in a recent virtual meeting with executives and the cuts are expected to “total many thousands”.

Zuckerberg reportedly said he was accountable for the company’s missteps and that his overoptimism about growth had led to overstaffing.

The company’s planned cuts are expected to be announced at 11am Irish time this morning.

Meta employs about 6,000 people in Ireland, about half of whom are staff. Globally, Facebook has about 87,000 employees.

Ireland is Meta’s largest base outside of the US, however, so any job losses are likely to have a significant impact here.

The layoffs are not expected to be as dramatic as Twitter’s recent announcement, with Twitter last week pledging to cut half its 7,500-strong workforce. 

The Wall Street Journal first reported the impending cuts by Facebook-parent Meta on Sunday, with the latest job losses the latest following other tech giants including Lyft and Stripe.

Speaking to RTÉ’s Prime Time last night, Varadkar pledged that the government will help people affected, “whether with education, training opportunities, welfare entitlements”.

He added that he is “confident” that companies like Meta “will honour all their legal obligations in relation to redundancy information and consultation”.

However, Varadkar noted that there is limited scope for the government to influence the decisions of companies like Meta and Twitter.

“The decisions that are being made in relation to Twitter, but also the other companies, are being made in headquarters in California,” said Varadkar.

“It’s not like a plant in Ireland being closed, where you might be able to do something to change the decision or to intervene in some way. These are global decisions being made in headquarters in the West Coast, and they will be applied to Ireland in a certain way.”

But the Tánaiste added that he has “been in those global headquarters more than once and have that relationship, and obviously I’m willing to engage personally in any way that might be helpful”.

While Varadkar told Prime Time that the “tech sector is important” and is responsible for 6% of employment and 16% of the economy, he pointed to other sectors that are “important too and are expanding”, such as pharmaceuticals, financial services, and aviation.

- With reporting by Christina Finn and Diarmuid Pepper

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