Thursday 18 July 2019

Chip-maker to shut for 3 days over Huawei ban

Irish staff to take break or unpaid leave

Caught in crossfire: Analog Devices’ headquarters in Norwood, Massachusetts
Caught in crossfire: Analog Devices’ headquarters in Norwood, Massachusetts

Patrick Edwards

WORKERS at the Irish operations of US multinational Analog Devices are bracing for a three-day shutdown following US President Donald Trump's blacklisting of Chinese telecoms firm Huawei.

Analog employs 1,200 people at its plant in Raheen, Co Limerick, many involved in making semiconductors for Huawei smartphones.

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It's understood they have been asked to take three days of paid holidays as part of a production slowdown next month.

It comes after the US Commerce Department's blacklisted the Chinese giant, and effectively halted its ability to buy American-made parts and components.

US-owned businesses are affected regardless of where they manufacture.

In the wake of these restrictions, Google has suspended activity with the giant, which supplies huge numbers of smartphones into the market.

The move is a huge worry for staff at Analog Devices's Raheen plant.

Headquartered in Massachusetts, Analog is one of Limerick's biggest employers, with its complex on the edge of Limerick city its main European base.

One worker there, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said: "The consensus is, people have been asked to take holidays, or unpaid leave if you don't have holidays remaining. It could be anything from three to five working days.

"It's to ensure we don't build up an inventory because of the uncertainty out there at the moment."

The worker added that staff "right across the board" are affected. Analog workers globally are impacted by this.

"It's obviously quite unsettling," the worker added.

Mr Trump - who was in Ireland last week - signed the executive order which effectively prevents any American companies doing business with the tech giant.

"It's so volatile. One minute, he could say something and it could turn the world on its head - people could lock up their shops and the next minute he could open his mouth, and people could spend again. It's so hard," said the worker in reference to the American president.

Shares in Analog have slid since the Huawei action.

Analog Devices Limerick is home to the firm's European- based R&D centre, and its global operations manufacturing facility.

While Huawei is not Analog's only customer, it is a major client. The firm has around 12.5pc of revenue exposure to 5G smartphone technologies.

Last year, workers at Rusal Alumina in Aughinish, Co Limerick, faced a nervous period, due to hostilities between the American and Russian governments.

Ultimately, the US treasury waived sanctions on the firm in January.

Analog Devices did not respond to a request for comment.

Irish Independent

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