By Drew Frayne
The latest in a round of tech company layoffs is hitting Irish workers. At least eight tech companies with offices in Ireland have announced layoffs in the past month. The number of jobs involved has yet to be determined, but is likely to be over 1,000 in total.
The most recent is Docusign, which has 600 workers in its Grand Canal Docks office in Dublin. The US documents company has announced a 6% firing plan internationally, targeting sales and marketing roles. This is the second round of layoffs at Docusign. How many Irish workers will be affected remains to be seen. Sixty people were let go in March.
Reversal of hiring spree
Also based near Grand Canal Dock, identity company Okta has announced 300 redundancies. How many Irish jobs will be hit is still being determined. PayPal announced 200 lost jobs and an 11% cut in Irish-based staff. The company currently employs 1,800 workers in Ireland.
Salesforce announced 30 layoffs. This is the third time in 12 months that Dublin-based workers have been laid off at Salesforce. More than 200 have been laid off since January last year. The company employs around 2,000 people in Ireland. The company had profits of $1.444 billion in 2022. VMware employed 1,000 people in Cork until it announced in December that 360 people would be sacked.
Microsoft has announced 1,900 job losses internationally at its gaming company Activision Blizzard. The 200 jobs at the Cork office are likely to be affected. EBay, Google, Riot games, and Amazon, all of which have offices in Ireland, announced international layoffs in recent weeks. It is likely that Irish workers will be hit. This continues a reversal of the tech industry hiring spree that took place during the pandemic lockdowns.
Tech and finance companies Meta, X, Accenture and Stripe have all slashed Irish jobs in the past twelve months.
Global job losses
Since January alone, over 21,000 workers have been let go across 76 tech companies, according to tracking website Layoffs. The tech sector is responsible for 168,032 lost jobs in 2023 and had the highest number of layoffs across all industries.
Mick Barry, Socialist Party TD for Cork North Central said “Big Tech lied when it told workers that they were part of one big happy family. Massive profits are going hand in hand with massive layoffs. Workers need to organise to defend their interests. The decision of Activision Blizzard workers to join Game Workers Unite Ireland / Financial Services Union is a positive step. The Government needs to be put under pressure too – there needs to be replacement investment and replacement jobs but no state aid for companies that don’t recognise unions.”
Ruth Coppinger of the Socialist Party said, “Solidarity with PayPal & other tech workers facing job cuts. The volatility of the tech sector is shown by this continued trend of job losses we’ve been seeing. PayPal also outsourced jobs in Blanchardstown in 2022 to countries with lower pay. Yet, global revenue for PayPal has risen. Workers contacted me then, and suspicious activity, fraud and crime checking were the departments being closed. Essential financial services can never be secure if left at the whim of and in the hands of capitalism. “
A PayPal worker speaking to former Socialist Party TD Ruth Coppinger about PayPal’s last round of layoffs noted job losses targeted the online security and ethics departments. This is a general trend within tech, particularly Twitter, where workers responsible for moderation, safety and security are targeted first. This will only increase the level of criminality, abuse, and bigotry on tech platforms.
Trends behind layoffs
As layoffs continue, the relatively higher wages the tech sector is known for is unlikely to last, particularly for younger workers entering the jobs market. Irish workers are particularly vulnerable to Silicon Valley layoffs, given the many tech companies taking advantage of Ireland’s tax haven status. AI and digital automation is also accelerating this trend, with Google recently announcing a new set of layoffs directly attributed to developments in AI.
The layoffs also coincide with bosses’ efforts to force people back into the office following the work-from-home trend that affords workers additional freedom in their day and means less money spent on transport and lunch. Layoffs, combined with less freedom to work from home, represent an intensification of daily work that will assist in maintaining profit margins and share prices for the bosses.
The chaotic boom-bust cycle of the tech sector is linked to the nature of capitalism as a whole, where jobs, wages and conditions are put on the chopping block when profit margins are at stake. Big tech companies should be taken out of the private ownership of billionaires and profiteers and brought into public ownership so that their resources can be used in a planned and sustainable manner.