Donohoe assails tech firms’ ‘appalling’ treatment of staff

Some companies’ conduct have fallen ‘far short’ of what is expected, says Minister for Finance

The behaviour of some tech companies in announcing job losses in recent days fell “far short” of what would be expected under Irish employment laws, Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe said.

Mr Donohoe told RTÉ Radio’s Today with Claire Byrne programme that the treatment of some tech staff had been “appalling”.

The situation should have been handled with compassion and clarity, he said. IDA Ireland had been in contact with the tech companies involved to remind them of their specific obligations under Irish employment legislation, he added.

* While the Minister did not specify which firms he was referring to, Twitter and Stripe both announced sweeping lay-offs last week, with Twitter expected to cut about half its Dublin staff. Neither firm informed Minister for Enterprise Leo Varadkar before announcing the lay-offs. Facebook owner Meta announced redundancies on Wednesday, with about 350 staff in Ireland expected to lose their jobs.


Mr Donohoe said the job losses were now an opportunity for some of the people involved to create their own companies. “I am blown away by tech entrepreneurship in this country,” he said.

Despite the job losses announced recently, Mr Donohoe was confident that Ireland would continue to have a strong tech sector. The changes in the industry were global, not just specific to Ireland. Enterprise Ireland’s high-performance start-up unit was “one of the best in the world”.

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The State had to be prepared for a lower level of growth in the economy next year with an anticipated growth of between 1 per cent and 1.5 per cent, which was lower than in recent years, but the State continued to have a consistently high level of employment.

The Government had prepared for any vulnerabilities developing, which was why it had put money away in the rainy-day fund, the Minister said.

While there was not a recession at present, he acknowledged that it was tough for families and businesses with rising prices. The temporary business energy support scheme will commence shortly, which will last until February and cover energy bills from September 1st, up to 40 per cent of bills that increase by more than 50 per cent, he said.

However, the Minister warned that he could not cover all of the costs without creating other risks for the country. It was about getting the balance right as had been done during the pandemic. “We want to be confident that what we launch we can afford,” he said.

* This article was edited on Friday, November 11th, 2022

Vivienne Clarke

Vivienne Clarke is a reporter