RAIL CHIEF TELLS STAFF TO TAKE €10 WEEKLY PAY CUT OR FACE JOB LOSSES - Irish Rail's chief executive has warned staff that accepting a €10-a-week pay cut is the only way to avoid job losses and industrial action. David Franks said he took the unusual step of writing to workers at their home addresses "because the future of Iarnrod Eireann, as we currently know it, is now very much in your hands". In the letter, he urged the workforce of more than 3,000 to accept a compromise drawn up by the Labour Court to resolve the dispute, writes the Irish Independent. He said for 74% of them, the pay cuts would be limited to about €10-a-week after tax. The chief executive also noted that the company could not come back for further cuts for 28 months. "The stark reality is that this is the only way to avoid conflict and industrial action, action which will lead to greater financial loss to you, a loss of customer confidence in our services, a loss of job security, and financial disaster for Iarnrod Eireann," he said. Mr Franks said the company had been in talks with their unions for well over a year and the Labour Court was the last industrial relations forum available to them.
FINGLETON'S ABANDONED MONTENEGRO RESORT IN RUINS - A proposed luxury hotel development by former Irish Nationwide banker Michael Fingleton for a Montenegro resort still lies in a dilapidated state, almost a year after he promised local officials he would advance plans for the project. Photographs supplied to The Irish Times by Australian blogger Paul Erickson illustrate the eyesore that the abandoned Hotel Fjord Kotor has become for the otherwise picturesque coastal tourist town. The hotel was to have been redeveloped into a luxury five-star resort by Mr Fingleton, who reportedly paid over €5 million in 2006 for control of the project through his firm, New Fjord Developments. Last year he told local mayor Marija Catovic he intends to pursue the redevelopment, which had become bogged down in disputes between Mr Fingleton, his creditors and former business partners. But according to Mr Erickson, who visited the area in recent weeks, the Hotel Fjord site remains abandoned and strewn with rubbish.
COURT ADJOURNS APPROVAL OF "BUY AND SELL" SALE - The provisional liquidator appointed to the company that publishes Buy and Sell magazine, yesterday asked the High Court for permission to sell it to a subsidiary firm of the Denis O’Brien-owned Communicorp, reports the Irish Examiner. Lawyers for Neil Hughes, who was appointed provisional liquidator earlier this month, asked the court to approve the sale to Demirca Ltd for €311,000 in what they described as the best interests of Buy and Sell’s creditors. Mr Justice Anthony Barr adjourned the application until tomorrow to allow a rival bidder, Midland Web Printing Ltd, which prints the magazine, to consider more fully its opposition to the court approving the sale to Demirca. Midland claimed it already had an agreement in place to acquire Buy and Sell and told the court it wants to complete that agreement. Midland also claimed in an affidavit that the proposed sale requires approval from both the Irish Competition Authority and the Commission for Communication Regulation. This, it claimed, was because Communicorp had interests in digital media and radio stations, and Mr O’Brien’s shareholding in Independent News and Media.
NORTHERN ROCK FOUNDATION TO CLOSE AFTER LACK OF FUNDING AGREEMENT - The Northern Rock Foundation, one of the UK’s biggest corporately-funded grant bodies, is to be closed after agreement on its funding could not be reached with Virgin Money, says the Financial Times. Set up by the former Northern Rock building society in 1997 when it demutualised to become a mortgage bank, the foundation was funded with a guaranteed 5% of the bank’s pre-tax profits. Between 1997 and 2007, as the bank grew aggressively, the Newcastle upon Tyne-headquartered foundation was able to disburse £178m, helping a wide variety of disadvantaged groups in the northeast and Cumbria. But after Northern Rock’s near collapse in late 2007 and its move into temporary public ownership, the future of the foundation, the largest independent grant maker in the northeast, became uncertain. Now, after discussions with Virgin Money, which acquired Northern Rock’s “good bank” element in January 2012, the foundation has announced that agreement has not been reached and it is to close. Its current grant programmes are due to finish by the end of 2014 and it will begin an orderly wind down with any remaining funds being distributed to social and employment programmes.