Today in the press

Wednesday 05 February 2014 08.46
A look at some of today's business stories in the newspapers
A look at some of today's business stories in the newspapers

IRISH LIFE STAFF VOTE FOR INDUSTRIAL ACTION IN ROW OVER PAY - Members of the Unite trade union at Irish Life have voted to take industrial action in a row over pay and profit sharing. It is understood that the union, which represents about 1,000 staff at the company, is seeking a pay rise and the re-introduction of a profit-sharing scheme, says the Irish Times. Sources said that union members voted by about 95% in favour of industrial action in pursuit of the claims. The level of the pay rise being sought by Unite was unclear. It is understood that staff have not received a pay increase since 2010. Talks are expected to get under way between the union and management at the Labour Relations Commission today. A Unite spokeswoman declined to comment on the row. The company said in a statement that “Irish Life has had recent discussions with the union [Unite] regarding certain employee terms and conditions. The matter has now been referred to the Labour Relations Commission and we look forward to participating in the process.” This move by staff comes seven months after Irish Life was formally returned to private ownership following its acquisition from the State by Canadian company Great- West Lifeco for €1.3 billion. 

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LANDMARK PENSION CASE COULD HAVE FAR-REACHING CONSEQUENCES - More than 100 members of a pension scheme have lost a High Court action which could have far-reaching consequences for pension schemes, reports the Irish Independent. The case arose after members of a scheme for an industrial diamond manufacturer took a case against the trustees of their scheme over the winding up of the fund. Judge Peter Charleton yesterday ruled the trustees of the scheme of Element Six in Shannon, Co Clare, had acted reasonably and in the interests of the members as a whole when they agreed in November 2011 to accept an offer to wind it up on the basis of a contribution of €37.1m from the company. Members sued the six trustees claiming breach of trust and conflict of interest in accepting the offer and said they should instead have demanded the company make a €129.2m contribution to make up the deficit. The claims were denied. The trustees - three management nominees and three worker nominees - accepted the €37m offer in a 3-3 vote in which one of the management nominees exercised their casting vote. The commercial division of the High Court heard Element Six, part of a multinational conglomerate including DeBeers diamonds, employs 359 people in Shannon. There are around 800 workers in the pension scheme.

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COUNTRY'S LARGEST TAXI FIRM MAKES €111,000 LOSS LAST YEAR - The country’s largest taxi firm plunged further into the red last year to record pre-tax losses of €111,033. National Radio Cabs Ltd has over 700 taxis on the road and has transported more than 17 millio passengers since it was established in 1957. Each day, the firm records 4,000 separate taxi rides through its system. New accounts filed by the Dublin-based firm show the pre-tax loss last year followed a pre-tax loss of €1.77m in fiscal 2012, writes the Irish Examiner. The chief factor behind the 2012 loss was a €1.6m property writedown. The figures show the firm did make an operating profit of €27,389 in the 12 months to the end of February, but net interest payments of €138,422 resulted in the pre-tax loss. The lower operating profits at National Radio Cabs - down from €33,684 in 2012 - follow the firm’s gross profit last year reducing by 13.5% to €1.759m. The firm recorded a post-tax loss of €127,312 after it incurred €16,279 in taxes on its losses. According to the directors’ report, “in common with all companies operating in Ireland in this sector, the company faces risks and uncertainties such as competition and increasing costs. The directors are of the opinion that the company is well-positioned to manage these risks”. 

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HP AND AUTONOMY GET OUT OWN ACCOUNTS - The Financial Times says that the bitter battle to find who was at fault for the $5.5 billion writedown incurred in 2011 at HP was given fresh fuel this week after the US group provided extra details of alleged accounting irregularities at Autonomy before its acquisition in 2011. However, with categorical denials of any wrongdoing from the former management of Autonomy, including founder Mike Lynch, and its auditors, the long-running dispute shows no sign of concluding. Both sides are using HP’s restatement of accounts for 2010 at a major division of Autonomy - which halved revenues and reduced operating profits fivefold - as an opportunity to further argue their respective cases. HP says that the restated, lower, numbers are consistent with its allegations of a series of accounting improprieties, misrepresentation of hardware sales and disclosure failure by the management of the British technology company. HP had outlined a series of allegations against the former management of Autonomy, ranging from the booking of low-margin hardware sales as high-margin software sales to bolster growth forecasts, to the use of intermediaries rather than customers to complete sales.

Keywords: presswatch