Thursday 19 October 2017

'The State didn't want to be seen as soft, our jobs are the price'

Grainne Cunningham, Isabel Hurley and Ralph Riegel

THE fears of hundreds of Quinn Insurance employees became a reality yesterday with 900 jobs to be shed.

But for some staff, who have no mortgage and no children, the redundancy package on offer was viewed as an opportunity to travel or change job.

The biggest number will go from the Blanchardstown base in north Dublin where workers were shocked at the scale of the losses.

The company wants 301 voluntary redundancies from the 850-strong staff, with 65 to go before the summer.

Fiona Kennedy (24) from Finglas, Dublin, has worked there for six years -- mainly in claims -- and is off on maternity leave, having had a baby girl 10 months ago. She thought the package on offer was "not too bad a deal" and said that while some of her colleagues were angry, she had not seen anyone in tears.

Gerard Power (28) from Blanchardstown said the number of job losses had come "as a bit of a shock".

'Avoidable'

He was going home to "think things over", but added that he had no responsibilities in terms of a house or children.

However, one male employee, who declined to give his name, said he was angry at the Government and the regulator because the job losses were "avoidable".

The father of two said he felt that local Fianna Fail TDs just gave up.

"The Government did not want to be seen to be soft and the price of looking tough was the jobs in this place," he said.

Other employees, such as Terri MacDonald from Huntstown, Dubin, expressed their sympathy for the Quinn family and praised Sean Quinn junior for being in Blanchardstown yesterday as the bad news was delivered.

Past president of the D15 Chamber of Commerce John Connolly called on the Government to designate Blanchardstown as a jobs blackspot.

Further north, Quinn staff in Navan, Co Meath, were also reeling after hearing that almost half of the workforce there will lose their jobs.

Out of a workforce of 220 people, 109 voluntary redundancies are sought, with 37 to go in the next two to three months.

Many of those in Navan are young couples with small children to support and some were in tears after the briefing yesterday.

Yesterday, the president of the Navan Chamber of William O'Reilly spoke of the widespread shock in the town.

"This is a devastating blow to the workforce and will also have a wider impact on local businesses in Navan," he said.

Workers have been asked by the administrators to make up their minds by May 19 as to whether to accept the voluntary redundancy or not.

In Cork, almost 350 QuinnHealthcare workers expressed relief yesterday that their arm of the business will be unaffected by the 900 voluntary redundancies being sought within the troubled sister insurance organisation.

The Quinn Group -- in all its operations including QuinnHealthcare-- employs almost 5,500 staff.

The 900 redundancies will affect the Navan, Cavan, Blanchardstown, Enniskillen and Manchester operation centres.

Irish Independent

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