Date Released: 12 April 2013
Minister for State at the Department of Transport, Tourism & Sport, Alan Kelly, has criticised the actions of management at Killarney Golf Club in initiating redundancies and outsourcing, while negotiations with the Labour Relations Commission (LRC) and Labour are underway.
“Working with its consultants over the last couple of days, Killarney Golf Club unilaterally decided to bypass the State’s industrial relations procedure and inform the employees of job losses, reductions in pay and conditions and outsourcing of jobs,” Alan Kelly said.
“Killarney Golf Club has one of the best golf courses in Ireland. It is a truly wonderful advert for golf in Ireland, one of our most important tourism products in one of our signature tourism destinations.
“The club, which has Fáilte Ireland as its majority shareholder has for many years been trading in difficult circumstances. Despite much work being done to redress this, it is still facing into a difficult future and there will have to be some form of changes in its operation. Everyone knows that, including the employees.
“That is why it was important that both the employer and the employees represented by SIPTU, entered into meaningful and frank discussions about these difficulties through the architecture of the Labour Relations Commission and the Labour Court. These discussions have not concluded.
“Killarney Golf Club has decided to bypass this process, guillotine it, and initiate job losses. The State in the form of Fáilte Ireland is the majority shareholder in Killarney Golf Club. We cannot have State companies ignoring the industrial relations machinery of the state. The State has to set an example during this financial crisis and this is no way to do business.
“The LRC process should be allowed to conclude and I'm sure the discussions could be taken into a quick hearing in the Labour Court in the coming weeks. Indeed I understand a date in April is already on the cards.
“ “The Board of Killarney Golf Club on behalf of the employers, and SIPTU on behalf of the employees, both brought in independent consultants to look at the financial future of the club and its future HR needs. They obviously didn't concur on many aspects of how to resolve this issue. I would ask both of them to publish the costs associated with these pieces of work and any other consultancy related work as well,” the Minister said.
On Wednesday (10th April) management served notice of redundancy on the workers even though a Labour Court hearing had been set for Monday, 29th April, to discuss ways of minimising job losses at the prestigious golf venue.
SIPTU Sector Organiser, Dennis Hynes, said: “The management of Killarney Golf Club has acted in a callous manner in trying to impose job losses without negotiation. The workers believe the aggressive behaviour of management in seeking to impose unnecessary redundancies and massive wage cuts is due to the influence of an outside consultant hired to advise the club on restructuring. Workers are particularly angered that this consultant’s approach is being adopted by a business whose majority shareholder is the State agency, Fáilte Ireland.”
SIPTU representatives will meet with workers on Thursday (18th April) to discuss what action will be taken to defend jobs at the Club.
Dennis Hynes said: “A ballot for strike action is a strong possibility. Workers have already agreed to a wage cut and are willing to enter into talks with management on other changes. However, these talks must be based on reality rather than the exaggerated claims that are being made by management in relation to the financial situation of the club."
Last year, the union referred the dispute at the Killarney Golf Club to the Labour Relations Commission (LRC). This year the matter was referred to the Labour Court. As part of the LRC process the union engaged an independent assessor to evaluate the club’s financial position.
Dennis Hynes said: “The assessor’s report indicated that management had greatly exaggerated the financial difficulties of the club. The report concluded that a degree of restructuring and some job losses were necessary to ensure the business’s profitability rather than the 35% pay cut and enforced redundancy of the majority of staff which is being sought by management.”