people power | 

Taoiseach Micheál Martin says treatment of Irish Twitter staff was ‘not acceptable’

Taoiseach also warns about using terms like ‘Tech Wreck’ and insists IT sector can bounce back after widespread redundancies

Twitter HQ at Cumberland Place in Dublin. Photo: Gareth Chaney/Collins

Ralph Riegel and Eoghan

Taoiseach Micheál Martin has hit out at Twitter over its treatment of Irish staff after it emerged the tech giant was to lay off employees in Dublin.

Mr Martin warned that the manner in which Twitter employees were treated with summary dismissal notices was “not acceptable”.

However, he also warned against commentators overstating the impact of jobs losses on Ireland’s IT sector and creating hype over a possible “Tech Wreck”.

Tánaiste Leo Varadkar said tech companies may have expanded too quickly.

Twitter employs more than 500 people in Dublin and over 7,000 globally.

The company sent an email to staff informing them that they would be told yesterday whether they still have a job.

“Team, in an effort to place Twitter on a healthy path, we will go through the difficult process of reducing our global workforce on Friday,” the internal memo to the employees read.

“We recognise that this will impact a number of individuals who have made valuable contributions to Twitter, but this action is unfortunately necessary to ensure the company’s success moving forward.”

Speaking in Tipperary, Mr Martin said the Government was concerned for the employees of Twitter.

“It has changed ownership globally – there seems to be a fairly unprecedented approach adopted here to a global workforce and that is manifesting itself in Ireland,” said Mr Martin.

“What I would say is that no matter who you are or what sector you are in, one must always treat people with dignity and respect.

“The employees of Twitter deserve to be treated with respect.

“I read some of the commentary from the workers – they enjoyed working with them [over the years], the Twitter that they knew.

“They had a good sense of collegiality there and enjoyed their work experience,” added Mr Martin.

“The summary notice of dismissal or you are no longer working [for Twitter], is not acceptable.

“That is not the way we conduct industrial relations or organise relationships between employers and employees.

“There has to be respect and there has to be dignity in situations like this.”

Mr Martin also warned about the use of language as some commentators spoke of a global “Tech Wreck” with IT, software and social media firms cutting staff and costs.

“We have to be careful about the language we use. We are going through global challenges – the whole world is,” he said.

“The war in Ukraine is having its impact. From time to time, different sectors having varied periods of activity and growth and then they can regress somewhat.

“We have been through that as a country and we have come back.”

Mr Varadkar has said some tech companies expanding “probably too quickly” was the reason for widespread layoffs across the sector in recent days.

“My first thoughts are with the people who are going to get bad news today – whether that’s people working in Stripe or Twitter, and other companies, who are going to find out that they’re losing their jobs,” Mr Varadkar said on RTÉ’s News at One.

“Tech companies expanded very quickly, probably a little bit too quickly, in the past year or two and as a result of this they have to lay off some staff.”

The Tánaiste said that despite the layoffs in Twitter and Stripe, the “number of vacancies in the sector still outweigh the number of people looking for employment.

“A slowdown or even a downturn in the tech sector will still mean companies making profits and a lot of people working in the sector,” he said.

“One thing we’ve been sure about and careful to do in Ireland is not to become over-reliant on any one sector.”

Public Expenditure and Reform Minister Michael McGrath admitted it was a “dark day” for staff who had suffered the loss of their livelihood.

“I don’t think they [Twitter] have made any formal statement yet on the impact on their Irish operations and we await developments.

“However, we will do all we possibly can to support those who have suffered a loss of employment today,” said Mr McGrath.

“The Government and all of our agencies will be working now to ensure that there are alternative opportunities provided to people who are bringing highly valued skills and experiences to the table.

“I am sure there will be a formal statement from the company setting out the full circumstances and setting out the facts of the situation. It is a company we have worked closely with for a number of years now in Ireland.

“It is an important relationship. But the manner of today’s developments is deeply disappointing.

“It is important that people are treated with respect at all times irrespective of how difficult the circumstances may be.”

Today's Headlines

More World News

Download the Sunday World app

Now download the free app for all the latest Sunday World News, Crime, Irish Showbiz and Sport. Available on Apple and Android devices

WatchMore Videos