900 workers at debt-ridden insurance giant facing axe
AT least 900 staff could leave Quinn Insurance under a plan being finalised last night by the company's administrators.
The full scale of the job losses to be revealed later today is likely to confirm the workers' worse fears.
That is despite a decision yesterday to allow Quinn Insurance to fully re-enter the UK motor insurance market.
The workers were hoping the announcement about the UK might mean fewer job losses.
But sources indicated the UK move would still result in a smaller business for Quinn in that market because prices are set to go up, thereby cutting the number of policies written.
Grant Thornton, the administrators, were still finalising a business plan for Quinn Insurance last night but job losses could be as high as 1,000 depending on how much business the firm can grab in the UK which is its main market after Ireland.
The bulk of the job losses are likely to hit Cavan town where the company's headquarters are. Members of Grant Thornton are expected to directly address staff there this afternoon. The Government is also expected to promise to help workers who take redundancy.
There is also the added uncertainty over the jobs at the wider Quinn Group, with UK building firm Laing O'Rourke believed to have made an offer for some part of this company.
Anglo Irish are still trying desperately to convince the Financial Regulator they have a credible plan to take over the entire Quinn Group, but the regulator Matthew Elderfield still has reservations.
For two weeks now the staff at the company have been wondering about the safety of their jobs, with some reports suggesting as many as 1,000 staff could be offered redundancy.
It is expected the administrators will rule out any compulsory redundancies and instead will try to work with staff representatives.
The job losses will not be happening immediately, with many of the posts only disappearing later this year or early next. However, this is unlikely to soften the blow to Cavan and surrounding areas.
Quinn Insurance is losing 2,000 customers a day since the regulator imposed the restrictions on its operations in the UK, workers told an Oireachtas Committee yesterday.
Angry workers got the backing of the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Enterprise, Trade & Employment when its members wrote to the regulator, asking him to allow the company access to profitable sections of its business in Britain and Northern Ireland.
Five representatives of the 2,800 Quinn Insurance employees added that a total of 62,000 customers have been lost in the past month -- based on an analysis of the 1.3 million clients at the company.
Following their presentation, the Dail Committee wrote to the regulator on their behalf.
However, the administrators believe Quinn Insurance needs to reduce its cost base as it is struggling to generate a profit.
The last set of accounts for Quinn Insurance in 2008 show a loss, although it did make a profit in the previous year.
The UK business is not profitable, according to the regulator.