The new French owner of telecoms company Eir may axe up to 1,000 jobs - a third of its workforce - when they take control, the Sunday Independent understands.
A number of sources believe that savage cuts over the next year form part of a business plan drawn up by the new owner. An Eir spokesman declined to comment.
Union bosses are set to meet with new CEO designate Carolan Lennon later this week to discuss staff concerns, according to trade union sources.
Iliad - owned by French telecoms billionaire Xavier Niel - is finalising its acquisition of the former state company from a collection of international funds and financial institutions.
Staff fears have been further stoked by controversy over a French television report into Iliad's human resources practices at its call centres in that country.
That report claimed Iliad had reduced headcount by up to 60pc at a call centre, relying heavily on non-standard methods such as dismissal for disciplinary reasons. The company has consistently denied the report.
One trade union source said Eir had just finished its latest round of cuts, and he questioned how the business would function if the type of cuts now suggested were undertaken. Staff numbers at the company have fallen from a peak of 13,000 to just 3,000 now. Iliad is in the process of gaining approvals from various regulatory bodies for its €770m takeover of Eir and has just won approval from the European Commission for the move.
Unions at Eir have already raised major concerns with management over the fact that the company is not taking on apprentice engineers to replace the very large number of engineers that are due to retire this year and in subsequent years.
In January, Eir pulled out of the National Broadband Plan - and it is understood that the new French owners are preparing to further focus the business on urban rather than rural parts of Ireland.
Concern over big job cuts comes as a small number of top Eir executives, including former CEO Richard Moat, prepare to share a windfall of up to €200m, triggered by the sale to Niel's company.
Eugene Quinn of trade union Forsa said it had lodged a claim for an equivalent payout for ordinary staff, but that the company had not responded to this claim.
He said trade unions were "always prepared to look at business plans in a reasonable manner but any leaving would have to be voluntary".
Sunday Indo Business