CIE Tours chief gets €14,000 country club perk
STATE-owned CIE Tours has been paying €14,000 a year in country club membership for its managing director, but is set to cut the perk as part of a cost-saving drive.
News of the perk comes as CIE Tours prepares to begin negotiations with unions on a wide-ranging efficiencies drive on foot of a recent report by consultants SHRC.
A spokesman for CIE Tours last night confirmed the company would be looking to reduce its Irish headcount from 34 to 26 as part of that drive.
"It's scandalous," said Patrick McCusker, of the workers' trade union TSSA.
"Staff have been on a pay freeze for two years, while they were apparently paying thousands on country club fees. If they're looking to cut costs, they should start with executive perks -- we'll be vigorously defending our members' jobs."
The tour operating arm of the embattled state transport firm has already cut its US team from 56 to 7, but reports of perks for US executives have raised tensions among Irish workers.
The Irish Independent has learnt that CIE Tours' New York-based managing director Brian Stack benefits from an $18,000 (€14,000) contribution to country club membership.
Mr Stack and other executives at CIE Tours are also entitled to bring their families home to Ireland on holidays once a year free of charge.
And executives routinely travel business class on international flights.
In a statement, CIE Tours stressed that while it was ultimately owned by the Irish taxpayer, it was "an incorporated private company" that received no state subsidy.
It said its US staff were "employed to typical terms and conditions in the tourism sector in the United States, as private sector employees".
CIE Tours declined to confirm how much it had paid for Mr Stack's country club fees, but confirmed "contribution to club membership has in the past been part of the remuneration package of the managing director".
"As part of wider cost reductions in the company, this will no longer be the case from the end of the 2009-10 membership," the statement added.
Sources stressed that country clubs can be a hive of business
The statement said senior staff "have travelled business class", but stressed that this was done "through a commercial agreement with a major airline for whom CIE Tours generates significant business".
"Most of this [business class international travel] is free," the company added. "Domestic US travel is generally with budget operators."
CIE Tours also said it "operates profitably" and had done so throughout its 20-year history. "The company is the largest single producer of tourism from the US to Ireland and in a year when Central Statistics Office figures show a serious decline in tourist numbers from the US, CIE Tours has generated growth of 15pc."
Despite this growth, the spokesman confirmed that CIE Tours was proposing to reduce its Irish headcount from 34 to 26 "to match staff with sectoral activity, as the tours business does not operate at maximum capacity all year".
CIE Tours hopes to achieve the cuts "through voluntary severance or redeployment within the CIE group".
Talks with unions on the cuts were "continuing", the company added.