DUBLIN, Ireland (AP) _ Personal computer maker Dell Inc. announced Tuesday that it will lay off 250 workers in Ireland as part of its global cost-cutting plan, a decision economists said reflected the rising expense of doing business here.
The approximately 4,500 employees at Dell's two locations in Ireland were told of the layoffs when they arrived for work. The cuts are expected to begin in July.
Dell, the No. 2 computer maker worldwide and No. 1 in the U.S., is Ireland's largest exporter and its biggest technology company.
Since arriving in Ireland in 1990, the Round Rock, Texas-based company has developed its biggest European computer-assembly plant in the western city of Limerick and based its European sales and support base in the Dublin suburb of Clondalkin.
Most of the job cuts are expected to affect the Clondalkin facility, which includes sales and marketing staff, technical support and other administrative workers. Dell already has shifted most of its Irish-based telephone support staff to locations ranging from Scotland to India.
The new announced cutbacks are only the latest since Dell — seeking to reclaim its status as the world's No. 1 computer maker — unveiled plans in May 2007 to cut 8,800 jobs worldwide, and most of those jobs already are gone.
Dell announced plans this month to close a plant in Austin, Texas, eliminating 900 jobs, and to pursue more job cuts in hope of paring $3 billion in costs annually.
Politicians and economists said the Dell cutbacks demonstrate how Ireland — long a favorite location for U.S. corporate investment in the European Union — had grown too expensive.
Edward Walsh, president emeritus of the University of Limerick, which has a strategic partnership with Dell, said the rise in wages and energy in Ireland in the past decade is exacerbated by the U.S. dollar's decline against the euro.
"In the past when multinationals consolidated and cut jobs, Ireland was more or less immune from this activity, but because our competitiveness has dropped, we are vulnerable as never before," Walsh said. "The economy could slip downwards as rapidly as it came up."
He described the Dell move as "a shot across the bow" that should spur labor unions to accept either a pay freeze or only limited raises nationally.
Negotiations on a new national wage pact opened last week. Ireland's unions are seeking raises greater than Ireland's 5 percent inflation rate.
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Copyright 2008 The Associated Press.