Minister for Enterprise Simon Coveney has not received a collective redundancy notification from Amazon since the company announced plans in November to shed 18,000 globally, suggesting the ecommerce giant’s roughly 5,000 staff in the State may escape the worst of the cuts.
The job losses, which began last year, were previously expected to affect about 10,000 people, although the company had not confirmed a figure last year. But in an open memo to staff on Thursday Amazon chief executive Andy Jassy confirmed that 18,000 jobs are now expected to be lost, with “several teams” to be affected.
Asked for comment, the company said only that it employs about 5,000 people in the Republic, having opened a new warehouse in Baldonnell Business Park in Dublin last September.
On Thursday evening the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment said Mr Coveney had not received a collective redundancy notification from Amazon. The department confirmed that Salesforce, which has about 2,500 employees in the Republic and is also planning to reduce its global headcount, has made no such notification either.
Any company with more than 300 employees in the State has a statutory obligation to notify the Minister of plans to make 30 or more employees redundant at least 30 days before the first cuts are made.
Mr Coveney earlier said that his department had been “speaking directly to Amazon” on Thursday and would stay in contact with both companies. In comments first reported by RTÉ, he cautioned that “a change” is taking place in the tech sector globally “and Ireland needs to adapt to that”.
“We’ll do everything we can to make sure that the conditions here in Ireland are as competitive as they possibly can be to make sure that companies are announcing new jobs as opposed to job losses,” he said.
In his memo Mr Jassy said the majority of cuts will be in the company’s Amazon Stores and people experience and technology team (PXT) organisations.
“As part of our annual planning process for 2023, leaders across the company have been working with their teams and looking at their workforce levels, investments they want to make in the future, and prioritising what matters most to customers and the long-term health of our businesses,” he said.
“This year’s review has been more difficult given the uncertain economy and that we’ve hired rapidly over the last several years. In November we communicated the hard decision to eliminate a number of positions across our devices and books businesses, and also announced a voluntary reduction offer for some employees in our PXT organisation. I also shared that we weren’t done with our annual planning process and that I expected there would be more role reductions in early 2023.”
Though the prospect of layoffs has loomed over Amazon for months – the company has acknowledged that it hired too many people during the pandemic – the increasing total suggests the company’s outlook has darkened.
Eliminating 18,000 workers would be the biggest cut yet for tech companies during the current slowdown, but Amazon also has a far bigger workforce than its Silicon Valley peers. It had more than 1.5 million employees as of the end of September, meaning the latest cuts would represent about 1 per cent of the workforce. – Additional reporting: Bloomberg