herald

Monday 26 June 2017

Tech giant 'to repay €4m' as workers reel from jobs axe

HP’s Maurice O’Connell said it was a sad day for employees
HP’s Maurice O’Connell said it was a sad day for employees
Bemused workers leave the plant as FF TD James Lawless speaks of the devastating news
FF TD James Lawless speaks of the devastating news

Technology giant HP Inc will have to repay almost €4m of the €62m it has received in taxpayers' money since arriving in Ireland.

This was revealed by Enterprise Minister Mary Mitchell O'Connor after the company announced 500 jobs will go at its Leixlip plant over the next 12 months.

She told the Dail that the €3.9m given to the company will have to be repaid.

Ms O'Connor brushed aside criticism of the Government and said it and the Industrial Development Agency (IDA) had fought "long and hard" in their bid to keep the jobs at the Leixlip plant.

Saddened

Some of the workers who will lose their jobs have been employed by the company for more than 20 years, said the plant's general manager, Maur-ice O'Connell.

News of the job losses left workers "disappointed and saddened", he said.

Speaking to reporters outside the massive HP facility, he said yesterday was a "sad day" for employees.

"Our focus will be on helping them through this transition period, helping them seek other careers within HP if possible and helping them seek opportunities outside the company," he said.

He said the decision to cut jobs was part of HP's global strategy to drive operational efficiencies and cost savings.

The money saved will be reinvested in growth opportunities for the print business.

"It's really about the need to consolidate to fewer sites," said Mr O'Connell.

"Ireland, relatively speaking, is a smaller site and we see an opportunity to move activities to larger sites, consolidate those activities there and achieve operational efficiencies and organisational efficiencies.

"As a result, we have decided to exit all of the print activities from the Leixlip site.

"Up to 500 people will be impacted by this. It is an unfortunate decision for the employees, but by no means is this an adverse reflection on the contribution of this site, which has been in operation since 1995.

"Truthfully, employees have been very disappointed, they are saddened by the news. They have had a long relationship with HP in general. People have 20 and 22 years of service here. HP has been a great employer and it's a sad day for employees."

He said the printing business was changing, but offered hope for the future by saying the company was interested in exploring newer technology such as 3D printing.

"A good example would be 3D printing, in which we feel we have a tremendous opportunity in the marketplace going forward."

Mr O'Connell said that it is only part of the HP business that is closing.

"Ireland remains a very important market for HP," he said. "We will retain the sales and marketing organisation here to support the business."

Although the 500 job losses are expected to be executed over the next 12 months, Mr O'Connell said he did not see any positions moving any earlier than July.

Some of the workers affected by the redundancies may be able to be redeployed elsewhere within the organisation, but Mr O'Connell conceded that some skills were not transferable.

He did promise, however, that those facing redundancy would receive an "enhanced severance package".

Meanwhile, Kildare North Fianna Fail TD and technology spokesperson James Lawless said the news of the job losses was devastating for the 500 workers, their families and for the wider communities.

"It's a bolt from the blue. HP has a long tradition of investment in Co Kildare," he said.

Commute

"The demographic would be very much graduates and technology workers. A lot of people commute from Dublin to these technology firms, so this is really a hammer blow.

"My heart goes out to the workers here today. They are taking the news on board, they are digesting it. It's never easy to get news like this."

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