Saturday 23 November 2019

The Punt: One is not amused over staff revolt

Queen Elizabeth II
Queen Elizabeth II

What a royal pain in the ass. It seems that the commoners employed at Windsor Palace have had enough and are revolting, leaving the British queen facing the prospect of the first ever industrial action by members of the royal household.

More than 100 low-paid staff at the historic castle outside London are due to be balloted from today in a dispute about leading guided tours.

The Public and Commercial Services Union, which is representing the workers, said it would be the first such action specific to the royal households and comes after years of pay restraint have left loyal workers paid below the widely-recognised living wage, with new recruits starting on as little as £14,400 a year.

It said staff are expected to carry out extra unpaid duties, including giving tours of the castle - even though visitors are charged for these - and acting as interpreters and first-aiders.

The ballot opens today and closes on April 14, with action planned to start from the end of the month.

They obviously feel they're due the royal treatment.

A rum business all the same

When the Punt was a lad there was a lot of talk about the "wine geese," Catholic soldiers of fortune who left Ireland after the Williamite wars and settled in France as vintners and traders. It seems some of their compatriots made it even further afield, pitching up in the less respectable trade of, well, piracy.

At any rate that's the story behind the "Irish" rum that has just been named 'Best Gold Rum' at the World Rum Awards.

It's as good a story as any, as far as the Punt is concerned. 'Wild Geese' rum is made from a blend of rums from Barbados, Jamaica and Guyana, but it is a sister drink to the Wild Geese whiskeys distilled here.

André Levy is the chairman of Protégé International which is the global distributor of Wild Geese. For anyone who thought the Wild Geese only went to France, Levy, whose wife is Irish, assures us they also had a presence in the Caribbean - including accounting for about 15pc of the pirates who once haunted the Spanish Main.

Whatever about the backstory, the rum sounds like the real deal.

Aged for up to eight years, the drink has received numerous other awards including gold medals from WSWA 2013, Rum Renaissance 2013 and the Beverage Testing institute.

'Another friggin' meeting'

Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) has announced the departure of one of its most senior executives a bare month after he took on a new role at the bank.

The bank said it had "reached agreement" with Rory Cullinan that the executive chairman of its Corporate and Institutional Bank will leave the lender on April 30.

Cullinan is highly regarded at RBS where he ran its internal bad bank -responsible for selling off unwanted assets, including in Ireland, before being put in charge of shrinking its wholesale and investment banking business.

The Punt hears the exit is over strategy differences. Mind you, it won't have pleased the bank's political bosses that Rory Cullinan recently featured in the Sun newspaper, over "selfie" photographs taken on his mobile apparently at meetings of the bank's board.

The messages were sent privately but later posted to the public Instagram website, as part of a Father's Day tribute.

Cullinan sent to his daughter captioning them: "Boring meeting xx", "Not a fan of board meetings xx", and "Another friggin' meeting."

Not something he'll have to worry about much longer, of course.

Irish Independent

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