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Memjet slashes Australian jobs in global alignment

Thursday, 21 February 2013
By Leon Spencer

Memjet’s Australian operation is facing an uncertain future after a number of its local employees were sacked earlier this month, in a move the company’s US owners say will help align its research and commercial divisions more closely.

While the print technology company is remaining tight-lipped about the number of jobs sliced from its local ranks, industry sources indicate that on 11 February, around 100 positions were slashed from Memjet’s Sydney research facility in North Ryde – about a third of its approximately 300-strong local workforce.

Memjet US spokesman, Jeff Bean, says that the job cuts were made to help better align the company’s research operations and its commercial operations.

“We had redundancies in Memjet Australia and reduced an undisclosed number of positions a week ago to better align our R&D and global commercialisation efforts in industrial, commercial and office printing markets,” says Bean.

Memjet CEO, Len Lauer, with a 'Whitney' printed poster in Memjet's Sydney facility late last year.

With much of Memjet’s research and development operation residing in Sydney, and its commercial division operating predominantly out of its San Diego corporate headquarters in California, the dramatic reduction in the company’s Australian positions could point to a shift in its research operations to US soil or to its Dublin facility in Ireland where the next generation of Memjet’s print technology is being developed.

The company is currently advertising a number of technology and product development positions on its website, with several California-based and Dublin-based development jobs up for grabs, including label systems engineer, software engineer and image science engineer.

Additionally, Memjet has offices and facilities in Taipei, Singapore and Boise, Idaho in the US. Many of these other facilities are also advertising new development positions.

This month’s job cuts will likely come as a new source of uncertainty for the company’s local research team, which endured a work shutdown in April last year during a bitter $600 million legal stoush between Memjet developer, Silverbrook Research, and its largest investor, the US-based George Kaiser Family Foundation.

In May last year, the San Diego-based Memjet company assumed control of Silverbrook Research’s Memjet-related intellectual property along with its approximately 300 employees as part of the legal settlement it eventually reached with Kaiser.

The deal saw the ownership rights to the Memjet-related research undertaken by Sydney’s Silverbrook Research – which was founded by the world’s most prolific patent holder, Australia’s Kia Silverbrook – move to Memjet in the US.

At the time, Silverbrook said: “We are devastated that Australia’s best and brightest scientists and engineers have been made to take annual leave from our Australian facilities. We have had to pay the staff on the Memjet project from our own pockets since February, while our US-based Memjet customer has over  $22 million in outstanding invoices owing to Silverbrook Research.”

 

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One Response to “Memjet slashes Australian jobs in global alignment”

  1. February 22, 2013 at 4:43 pm,

    Derek
    said:

    It is sad but it highlights the growing problem and increasing concern of the state of manufacturing and high cost of employing people in Australia. I am very interested to see what the long term strategy is for memjet’s operations in north ryde and whether this is just the start of a pre mediated move to outsource Australian jobs overseas

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