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Microsoft Ireland on Tuesday confirmed that about 55 staff would be made redundant, as 113 positions move to locations outside Ireland.

The cuts, reported first by ElectricNews.Net on Monday, follow a review of the company's Windows International Team. The restructuring in that business unit will impact 113 Ireland-based workers, the company said. A few staff not losing their jobs will be offered positions at Microsoft headquarters in Redmond, Washington, while others will be encouraged to apply for various positions in Ireland and abroad. In total about 55 staff members will be made redundant.

"This is more about flexibility than creating efficiency," Joe Macri, general manager for Microsoft in Ireland, told ElectricNews.Net "I want to say that Microsoft is fully committed to Ireland, and this has nothing to do with wage concerns or the cost of doing business here. The company has been here for 17 years and Ireland will increasingly play an important strategic role for the company," Macri stressed.

In discussing the importance of Ireland to the company's plans, the Microsoft GM pointed to the creation of a number of new jobs in Ireland as part of a new EMEA Windows Engineering Team, which will be established in Dublin. This team will be responsible developing certain aspects of the Windows operating system, for sale in the EMEA region.

"The decision to locate this new team within Microsoft's operations in Ireland is strategically significant, as employees will be involved in the design and development of core functionality for the Windows products for EMEA markets," the company said in a statement. "It is a further indication of Microsoft's Irish operations continuing to evolve in terms of strategic importance to Microsoft Corporation."

In September 2002, the company cut a number of Irish-based, .Net project-related jobs, claiming that moving the jobs to the US would increase efficiency. Days after those cuts were made, however, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer admitted that Microsoft jobs will "come and go" in Ireland, but overall the company was committed to its base here.

With about 1,700 employees, Microsoft operates three businesses in Ireland -- a European operations centre, a European product development centre, and its Ireland sales, marketing & services group. After its headquarters, the Irish facility is the company's second largest in the world, alongside an operation in Japan.

Microsoft spends around EUR350 million each year in the Irish economy, and the software behemoth accounts for about 6 percent of national exports.

The cuts in September and the job losses set to be announced on Tuesday, come at a time when Microsoft is outperforming the rest of the technology sector and has announced plans to up its global headcount. In July 2002, the company said that it planned to increase its R&D spending by 20 percent over the next year and would bring on an additional 5,000 workers as part of the move. Globally, Microsoft employs more than 50,000.

© ENN

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