Seagate staff braced for news of possible further redundancies
Workers at Seagate Technology in Londonderry will find out later this week if they will be affected by the company's decision to cut its global workforce by 14% by the end of next year.
Over 1,300 people are employed at its Springtown site in Derry where 70 workers lost their jobs in May after the company reduced its staff worldwide by 5%.
It is understood the cuts have come as a result of a fall in demand for hard disc drives (HDD) manufactured in Derry as most computer devices, including mobile phones and tablets, use flash storage.
Seagate has been adapting to this change in the way data is stored and the two job cut announcements, in May and this week, are understood to be part of that process, but Steve Luczo, chief executive of Seagate, remains confident about the long term future.
In a statement, he said: "The evolution of mobile and cloud data-driven environments continues to define itself as requiring significant amounts of mass storage.
"Seagate will continue to evolve its product offerings, technology investment and manufacturing footprint to best serve our customers with the world's most advanced and cost-advantaged HDD products."
While 70 staff cuts in Derry in May were achieved through voluntary severance, union officials said this is unlikely to be the case this time around.
In total Seagate plans to axe 6,500 jobs worldwide but how many if any of these will be in the north west is still a matter of speculation.
Liam Gallagher from the trade union Unite told the Belfast Telegraph that getting information about the future for the Derry workers is being hampered by Seagate's refusal to recognise unions.
"The majority of the workers at Seagate are not members of any union because of the company's policy, although we do have some members employed there," he said.
"In May the affect of the global cuts by Seagate to Derry resulted in 70 people leaving, mostly through voluntary redundancy, but if the 14% cut to the workforce is applied to Derry this will have a devastating affect on the local economy. Seagate is the largest employer in Derry and the workforce there represents half the total number of people employed in the manufacturing industry so job cuts to Seagate will have serious implications," he added.
Seagate Technology has had a strong presence in Derry since 1993 - a time when the city was struggling to attract any kind of inward investment.
One of those most instrumental in convincing the company at the time that Derry was a good place to do business was former SDLP leader John Hume.
His party colleague on Derry and Strabane District Council, John Boyle, said he hopes Seagate can provide clarity to the Derry workers within the next few days.
He said: "This announcement is a matter of concern for all of us but particularly for the Seagate staff so I hope the company can clarify the situation as soon as possible to alleviate the anxiety."
Councillor Boyle added: "Any further loss to the manufacturing industry in a city once renowned for manufacturing would be deeply regrettable, but hopefully it won't come to that."