Job cuts news puts 800 Irish workers at risk

 

The fate of 800 multinational jobs hangs in the balance following announcements of cutbacks by Motorola, Alcatel and Cap Gemini Ernst & Young, writes Colm Keena

The extent to which cutbacks in the three technology groups would affect their Irish operations would take some time to emerge, spokespeople said yesterday.

The three groups have announced job cuts to their worldwide operations in order to reduce costs. Between them, they employ approximately 800 people here.

A spokeswoman for Motorola in the Republic said it was not known yet how the worldwide job cuts it had announced would fall on a regional basis or in terms of areas of the company's activities.

Motorola employs more than 600 people in the Republic. Its largest operation, in Mahon, Co Cork, involves research and development, and employs 550 people.

A design centre in the Airport Business Centre, Cork, employs 35 people and a sales, marketing and design operation in Swords, Co Dublin, employs 20.

In December 2000, Motorola let 750 people go from its manufacturing facility in Swords, Co Dublin, before selling the remaining operation, which employed a further 450 people, to Celestica.

Motorola's chairman and chief executive, Mr Christopher Galvin, has announced the company intends to cut 7,000 jobs worldwide. Since August 2000, the chipmaker and world's second-largest mobile phone maker has slashed its workforce by more than one-third from its peak level of 150,000.

"What we're doing here is taking the company back to about its 1995 size, before the era of the excesses of the dotcom and telecom booms," said Mr Galvin.

Cap Gemini Ernst & Young, the IT consultancy firm that employs about 120 people in Dublin, has said it intends to let 5,500 people go worldwide in order to adapt the company "to the new market conditions".

The company, which axed 5,400 jobs or 9 per cent of its worldwide workforce last year, said the new move was designed to raise its operating margin by between seven and eight points by 2004. It is not known as yet whether the job cuts will affect the Irish operation.

A recent comment by French telecommunications company Alcatel that it was implementing "additional restructuring moves" to accelerate its cost-reducing programme has raised concerns about job cuts here.

The company employes 80 people in Bandon, Co Cork. Earlier this year it let 90 people go from its operations in Bandon and in Shannon. It was not known if the latest announcement would affect the Republic, a spokesman said.