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Thursday 2 February 2023 Dublin: 8°C
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# tech job losses
Twitter hasn't engaged with Enterprise Department over job losses yet, says business minister
The amount of jobs that will be lost is still unknown, Minister of State Damien English said

MINISTER OF STATE for Business, Employment and Retail, Damien English, has said that Twitter hasn’t been in touch with the Department of Enterprise about job losses at its Irish offices.

Speaking on RTÉ’s News at One to Brian Dobson, the minister said he expected Twitter to reach out in “the coming days” but the exact number of people sacked or made redundant was still unknown.

Companies proposing to make a large number of their staff redundant are required to inform the Minister for Enterprise at least 30 days before the first dismissals take place.

“Those processes only kick in about 30 days before dismissal would happen or redundancies actually happen. So there is still time to follow their obligations,” English said.

“Very often these announcements come globally, first of all, and then the details under the requirements for Irish law are what would come into play closer to the time so generally, there would be 30 days before any redundancies would actually happen.”

Since Elon Musk bought Twitter the company fired roughly half of its 7,500-strong workforce via email on Friday evening, something Taoiseach Micheál Martin has said was “not acceptable” and “fairly unprecedented”.

Silicon Republic has reported that Twitter had approximately 500 Irish employees before recent announcements, but English said that the exact number of job losses here was still unknown.

“Announcements are probably made at head office on a global footprint first of all, and then it trickles down to the impact it has on any individual country.”

“We don’t have the numbers, we do expect direct engagement with out department in the days ahead.

“We’ve got very strong protections here for employees under Irish employment law and we expect that to be followed in detail in the weeks and months ahead, and I have no reason to believe it won’t.”

Digital payments giant Stripe, founded by Limerick brothers Patrick and John Collison, also recently announced it would reduce staff. 

Again, English said that the exact job losses in Ireland were still uncertain although it has been confirmed that the company will reduce staff by 14% internationally, which amounts to approximately 1,000 jobs overall.

“They have a very strong presence here in Ireland and they’ve said publicly they want to keep that presence. So we expect that [job losses] to be minimum but we don’t know,” he said.

English said that Stripe also haven’t been in contact with the Department of Enterprise about possible redundancies yet but Meta had, and was planning redundancies on an international level.

Facebook’s parent company employs approximately 3,000 people directly in Ireland and another 6,000 through contracts.

The minister continued by saying that many tech companies had overestimated their growth during the pandemic and added recruited more employees than was sustainable.

“We expect these companies in the future to be able to take these staff back or take new talent back on,” he added.

The minister said that the Industrial Development Agency (IDA) was aware of companies who had stopped hiring new staff in an effort to curb the need for job losses if the global economy continues to worsen.

“There’s been a lot of comments over the last couple of months of companies having to readjust their growth forecast and that will generally lead to job freezes, as opposed to job losses, we hope that’s minimized.”

Employment law

Speaking in the Dáil this afternoon, Public Expenditure Minister Michael McGrath said he would welcome a debate on the matter in the House. 

When asked about ensuring that Irish employment law is adhered to, and if not, fines are sufficiently applied, McGrath said the provisions under the employment act are “very clear”.

There is a requirement for a 30-day consultation period with workers and their representatives, and also the need to notify the Minister of Trade and Employment of the proposals at least 30 days before any course of action is taken. The Workplace Relations Commission body in Ireland to deal with such matters, and they won’t be found wanting in their recourse for action, he said.

Tánaiste Leo Varadkar held meetings with officials from the Industrial Development Agency (IDA) and Enterprise Ireland last night over upcoming job losses within the tech sector.

He said he is confident technology companies operating in Ireland will comply with statutory requirements around the impending redundancies at Twitter and Facebook.

Varadkar said no big tech company has given any indication they intend to close their offices in Ireland.

Varadkar said in a statement following last night’s meeting that there is still “high demand” for tech workers in Ireland.

“Today senior IDA and Enterprise Ireland staff briefed me and Ministers of State Damien English and Dara Calleary on the current situation in the global tech sector,” he said.

“This followed a series of direct contacts by my office and the agencies with the companies involved.

“My main concern is for the staff and their families who will be affected by downsizing in certain tech companies with a presence in Ireland. No company has given any indication that it is considering closing its Irish base.

“We will assist any employees affected as they seek alternative employment or other opportunities.

“As a country we are close to full employment, with high demand for tech, marketing and other skills across all sectors.

“There is a strong pipeline of new investments from overseas and within Ireland in a range of sectors including tech and in other sectors and we expect many positive announcements in the coming months” he said. 

With reporting by Christina Finn and Press Association 

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