Today in the pressTuesday 27 May 2014 10.31
BANK WORKERS FIGHT AIB MOVE TO AXE COMPANY CARS - A group of bank workers are claiming that there are being unfairly treated by Allied Irish Banks plans to strip them of company cars. As part of a cost-cutting measure, AIB is proposing that the bank's Financial Planning Consultants (FPCs) no longer have their functional cars, says the Irish Independent. The move is being strenuously resisted by the Irish Bank Officials Association (IBOA). Before the Labour Court, AIB has argued that the role of the FPC has changed immensely and the majority of FPCs are now branch-based or at the most are required to travel between two branches, if at all. The bank told the court that the decision to remove the functional cars was taken following a cost-benefit analysis carried out in order to reduce overheads. The bank also contended that there is no financial loss suffered by any FPC as a result of the move. However, on behalf of the FPCs, the IBOA has argued that the functional car is an essential element of the FPC role as they are required to be mobile.
STATE TO ASK SUPREME COURT TO STRIKE OUT SCHOOL BUS APPEAL - The Department of Education plans to ask the Supreme Court, on Friday, to strike out a challenge to Bus Éireann's exclusive right to operate the €160-million- a-year school transport service. It claims abuse of process by the organisation involved, writes the Irish Times. Student Transport Scheme (STS), backed by US multinational Navistar and Galway businessman Enda O'Coineen, is appealing a High Court ruling which said the department does not have to put the schools service out to tender in line with EU public procurement practice. In its motion before the Supreme Court, the department plans to call for the appeal to be struck out, claiming STS has delayed in preparing its case. It is understood the department also says STS has engaged in campaigns against it and State-owned Bus Éireann in newspapers and with public representatives that amount to an abuse of process. STS is likely to oppose the motion. It is understood it will argue that it is entitled to engage with news papers and public representatives. The High Court ruled against the company's original claim that the schools service should be put out to tender on the basis that the relationship between the department and Bus Éireann is not a commercial contract, but an administrative arrangement between two arms of the State.
BLEAK OUTLOOK FOR OWNERS OF €400,000 'LOO WITH A VIEW' - A construction firm that splurged €400,000 on a derelict toilet at the height of the building boom is only surviving now because its bank is rolling up its interest payments, says the Irish Examiner. In 2008, owner of Galvin Construction Ltd, John Galvin bought the site containing the toilet block on Lahinch, Co Clare, promenade "with unrivalled and unparalleled sea views" after his nearest bidder declined to go beyond €400,000. At the auction, when asked was he happy with the price paid, Mr Galvin said: "I would be happy if I got it for cheaper, but that's the way it goes." However, the purchase occurred only three months before the collapse of Lehman Brothers in September 2008 and a collapse in property prices. Mr Galvin subsequently secured planning for two shops and three apartments on the site in 2011, but has not proceeded with the plan. Now, new accounts show that the Co Clare construction firm had accumulated losses of €6.52m at the end of June 30th 2013. The firm owed €6.7m in bank loans and overdrafts at the end of June last and the accounts just filed with the Companies Office show that the firm recorded losses of €356,539 in 2013.
URBAN OUTFITTERS FACES SHAREHOLDER REBELLION OVER DIVERSITY - Urban Outfitters, the clothing retailer, faces a shareholder rebellion over boardroom diversity, after large pension funds criticised its paucity of female directors, reports the Financial Times. The company, which also owns the women's apparel chains Anthropologie and Free People, should recruit more female and minority directors so that its board "reflects the diversity that exists within its target markets", according to a shareholder resolution that is being supported by at least five of the largest public pension funds in the US. The proposal, sponsored by the comptroller of New York state, Thomas DiNapoli, and the Connecticut Retirement Plans, has attracted the backing of the $262 billion California fund Calpers and funds in North Carolina and New York city. "Urban Outfitters thrives on tracking fashion and yet is committed to a deeply unfashionable and outmoded form of corporate governance," said Anne Simpson, senior portfolio manager at Calpers. The pension funds have been angered by what the Connecticut state treasurer Denise Nappier called a "bogus" response from the company when a similar diversity resolution last year attracted 28% support. The company appointed a single female board director: the wife of Urban Outfitters' founder and chief executive Richard Hayne. Margaret Hayne is president and chief creative officer of the Free People chain. The other six board members are men; only one is aged below 60.