Workers of the world….

01.06.2007 – One of Ireland’s biggest technology employers Dell has revealed that will be laying off 10pc off its staff worldwide, amounting to 8,800 job losses in total.
Some 450 Irish jobs are expected to go.This brings to 1,800 the number of job cuts announced this week, following similar decisions by Eircom and O2.

Although 450 Irish jobs are expected to go in Ireland over the next year, CEO, Michael Dell, in a statement made last night, said that no final decisions had been made as to exact numbers.

Dell employs 3,000 people in Limerick plus a further 1,000 in Cherrywood in Dublin. (Article.)

Some disturbing signs—job losses and stagnating housing prices among them—are scaring people in Ireland that the booming economy that began in the 1990’s—known here as the Celtic Tiger—could be coming to an end.

Wikipedia is of the opinion it already ended in 2001 or 2002. I disagree. When I first arrived in Dublin in ‘04, the economy was doing so well, it was ridiculously easy to find a good job. For the first year or so, unemployment was literally non-existent! It’s still very low and jobs are readily available. Wages are high. People are throwing cash around in conspicuous consumption like there’s no tomorrow. I think the Tiger’s heart is still beating fairly strongly.

Although for how long, I don’t know. The government isn’t investing in infrastructure and is giving only lip service to solving increasingly serious problems—healthcare, transportation, telecommunications, high costs of living—that will eventually drive international companies to cheaper regions if they continue to worsen.

But actually, I wanted to say two other things about the story above. First, when are workers going to organize and collectively make it known that we will no longer abide being treated like commodities? Dell made first-quarter profits of $947m.

Dell has improved its customer support and focused on emerging markets like Brazil, with remarkable success. The results have been a jump in first-quarter profits to $947m from $762m over the same period last year, and sales rising by about 1% to $14.6bn over the past three months. [emphasis mine] (Article here.)

So to thank its employees, Dell’s firing them?!

Eircom, likewise, has reported profits. And O2 has increased its Irish revenue and customer base.

Firing employees when a corporation is doing well has become a common tactic to please shareholders and drive profits even higher. That the practice grinds workers like grist in a mill doesn’t bother the folks raking in the dough.

Collectively. We. Could. Say. “Enough.”

My second point drives home my first. Collective action and labour laws DO make a difference.

On the news this morning, when Dell’s intended cuts were announced, the business/labour analyst said that the bulk of the cuts would probably not occur in Ireland, but rather in the US.


(I’ll paraphrase, although this is very close to an exact quote.) “Because it’s a lot easier to fire people in the U.S. than it is in Europe. Labour laws are a lot more lax there.”

So, Shakers, there you have it. To the denizens of Bush and Cheney’s “Old Europe,” America has come to symbolize a sort of “third world nation,” good for quaint political demagoguery, cheap merchandise and real estate, and exploitable labour.

It’s a crying shame.


1 Comment

Filed under 08_brynn

One response to “Workers of the world….

  1. Nik E Poo

    When I lived in the Denver area (which is a boom/bust kinda place) … it was common to see the following bumper sticker:

    Please God, Just give me one more boom.
    I promise not to piss it away next time.

    Its a lesson I’m afraid, was not well received by my Irish friends. They’d come out for an IT conference and talk about their new SUV this … or remodeled that. I really did try. I guess my years of being soiled by proximity to executive scumbags, allowed me to believe my friends … when they told me I was just being paranoid.

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