Ireland's eircom hikes job cuts to 2,000 over 18 months
DUBLIN Oct 31 (Reuters) - Irish telecoms firm eircom plans to axe 2,000 workers over the next 18 months, cutting its workforce by over a third and doubling the level of job cuts it envisaged earlier this year.
The former state telecoms operator filed for protection from its creditors in March to restructure 3.75 billion euros ($4.9 billion) of debt and was taken over by its senior lenders after cutting its debt by 40 percent.
The restructuring, which wiped out nearly all of its junior debt, originally factored in the loss of 1,000 jobs over five years.
But eircom informed its current 5,700 employees on Wednesday that it would accelerate its cost-cutting programme, including the closure of offices, to bring operational costs in line with its European peers.
"The challenges facing eircom are significant. They require a fundamental transformation in the way we are organised," its new chief executive, Herb Hribar, said in a statement.
"The programme is ambitious, but the challenges are not insurmountable. Achieving these cost reductions is vital to providing the organisation with greater flexibility," he added.
Unemployment in Ireland has recently stabilised at a crisis-high of close to 15 percent, with an increase in the number of new jobs from direct investment by foreigns firms just offsetting job cuts by companies such as eircom that overstretched and took on heavy debt during the "Celtic Tiger" boom years.
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