Job losses at IT firm linked to Apple

Job losses at IT firm linked to Apple

An Irish firm which provides services to Apple has confirmed that job losses are on the cards after a “client project” finished early.

IT managed service business GlobeTech, which was founded in Cork in 1997 and which employs some 700-staff around the world, confirmed yesterday that a number of employees, who were called to briefings yesterday, were told that “a client project has been brought to an early conclusion”.

It has declined to comment on the number of staff affected or on the nature of the client project. But the decision does not affect its overall business, it insisted.

It is understood that staff at the firm, which is headquartered at the Cork Airport Business Park, provided a range of services to Apple, including the grading of Apple’s voice assistant, Siri.

It emerged last month that Apple was paying contractors around the world to listen to recordings from Siri as part of a quality-control and grading service.

Apple said the data was being used to help Siri to understand people better and recognise what is being said.

The tech giant said the Siri responses were analysed in secure facilities and that all reviewers were under the obligation to adhere to Apple’s strict confidentiality requirements.

It said less than 1% of daily Siri activations were used for this purpose; that the recordings are not linked to user ID accounts; and that the clips are typically only a few seconds long.

However, a whistleblower told The Guardian that as part of their job, contractors heard confidential medical information, drug deals, and recordings of couples having sex.

A week after the revelations, Apple suspended its Siri grading work globally.

GlobeTech, which boasts on its website that its software has been used at major international events such as the London Olympic Games, the Superbowl and Coachella in the US, refused to comment on whether its decision to let staff go is linked to Apple’s decision to suspend the Siri grading work.

GlobeTech instead issued a statement saying it is assessing the impact of the early conclusion of the client project on its business and will continue to engage proactively with all employees in the coming days.

“This is a difficult situation for everyone involved,” GlobeTech CEO Kevin Kelly said.

“The nature of our business means that the majority of our employee contracts are fixed-purpose and are linked to client requirements and project lifecycles. 

"We are committed to supporting our employees through potential redeployment opportunities, where possible.”

- Additional reporting by Jess Casey

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