|US chip giant Intel is Ireland's largest industrial employer. Since 1989, Intel has invested over $7 billion transforming the 360 acre former stud farm campus in Leixlip, Co. Kildare into a state of the art manufacturing centre of excellence. |
Intel’s Leixlip campus is County Kildare is Intel’s fourth largest manufacturing site and the largest fabrication facility outside the United States. The campus employs over 5,500 people, directly and indirectly. There are currently four semi-conductor factories or FABs on site; Fab 10 and Fab 14 have merged to form Ireland Fab Operations (IFO), Fab 24, and the recently opened Fab 24-2 which is one of the most technically advanced, high-volume semiconductor manufacturing sites in the world. It produces the latest Intel products; the Intel Core 2 Duo and Intel Core 2 Extreme processors for consumer, business, desktop and laptop PCs.
Minister for Enterprise and Employment Mícheál Martin is reported to have told Cabinet colleagues, that Ireland's top US multinational employer, chip giant Intel, does not plan any further job losses after it decided to make 200 staff voluntarily redundant.
The biggest private-sector employer in the State, said it was seeking the job cuts in order to maintain its competitiveness in the face of increasing cost pressures.
Intel and its subcontractors employ more than 5,150 people at its plant in Leixlip, Co Kildare and Wednesday's development follows a number of job reductions at key Irish-based multinationals such as Pfizer, Procter & Gamble, Motorola, O2 and Vodafone.
"Intel Ireland needs to remain competitive and agile in a dynamic marketplace. While this action is very difficult, it is essential that we face up to and respond to the competitive challenges," said Intel Ireland General Manager Jim O'Hara. "We continue to be a critical asset for Intel Corporation and we are all committed to ensuring our success in the long haul. The most effective way to do this is to benchmark ourselves aggressively against our global competition and ensure we deliver a unique advantage from Ireland."
The centre of gravity of global manufacturing is moving to Asia and Intel is currently building chip plants in Vietnam and Dahlin in North-East China. It is likely that when the fabrication plants at Leixlip become obsolete, the numbers employed by Intel in Ireland will fall significantly.
On Wednesday, when asked whether the redundancies might herald further job cuts, Intel's chief spokesman in Ireland indicated that there was no threat to the operation. "The purpose of taking this action is to make us more agile and efficient not only this year but for years to come," he said.
Intel's total investment in Ireland is estimated to be at about $7 billion (€5.02 billion).
There has been no significant US investment in Ireland this decade, to match the big greenfield investments that began in 1989 with Intel, to be followed a year later by Dell.
While Minister Mícheál Martin makes much of announcements such as Wednesday's decision of two US firms promised to create up to 350 jobs, over three to five years - medical technology firm Kinetic Concepts plans to hire up to 250 new staff in Athlone in the next five years, replacing a planned closure of another US company, and Blizzard Entertainment, which makes software for computer games, plans to hire up to 100 in Cork in the next three years.
Fine Gael's newly appointed enterprise spokesman, Leo Varadkar, said the redundancies at Intel were "a grim indicator" of Ireland's declining competitiveness. "Intel has been integral to Ireland's economic success story, and its presence in Ireland is essential to attracting further high-end jobs," he said.
Varadkar said Ireland had lost 30,000 manufacturing jobs in the last five years. "High-tech exporters are no longer contributing to Irish economic growth, which was so crucial in the 1990s. Ireland's share of international trade has fallen by over a third since 2002."
However, IDA Ireland's spokeswoman said the body did not regard the development as an economic indicator. "We don't see it as a cause of concern. It's very much an internal restructuring."
Speaking to reporters on Wednesday, the Minister Mícheál Martin played down the significance of the development. "I think we need to keep perspective all the time. We're looking at 200 redundancies in the context of 5,000 positions. That's the context," he said.