Ireland’s country’s most profitable private company, the Quinn Group, has been ordered to provide employees of its cement division with conditions in line with those demanded by the Siptu union. The non-union company, headed by entrepreneur Sean Quinn, reported pre-tax profits of over €140m last year and is projected to see these rise above €200m over the next year.
The Labour Court has issued a binding determination on the company to introduce a 39-hour basic week and a sick pay scheme under the ’arms-length’ union recognition legislation. If Quinn Cement refuses to implement the 39-hour working week and a staff sick scheme, it will be open to Siptu to seek enforcement through the Circuit Court.
In October 2004 most of the production staff at the Cavan cement plant chose to join Siptu and it sought recognition to represent them. The company hired former Labour Court chairman John Horgan as a ’union buster’ to keep Siptu from securing negotiating rights and to assist with its response to the union and the Labour Court.
The improvement in conditions may spark a wider interest in union representation among the Quinn Group’s 5,500 employees, with Amicus-MSF anxious to expand its presence in the financial services sector, which includes Quinn Insurance, and Siptu also recruiting members in the hotel and leisure areas.