EIRCOM AND UNIONS AGREE 5% PAY RISE FOR STAFF OVER NEXT FOUR YEARS - Eircom staff are in line for a 5% pay increase over the next four years following a deal struck by the company and its unions. Bonuses and other payments are to be put in place also for certain grades of staff in return for changes to work practices, says the Irish Times. The deal was agreed through the Labour Relations Commission with workers to be balloted on the proposals this month. Under the deal, staff will receive a 2.5% pay increase with effect from July 1st next year. An additional 1.25% will be paid a year later followed by the same percentage increase on July 1st 2017. Both sides have agreed that there would then be no further pay increases until July 2018. A pay freeze has been in place at Eircom since 2008. The company is now in the final stages of a voluntary leaving scheme that will reduce its headcount by 2,000 to about 3,500. In addition to the pay rises, all graded employees will received a once-off, non-pensionable productivity payment of €875 this month. Bonuses of up to 3% are also to be made available to certain grades of employees, based on the delivery of certain cost-saving measures.
TYCOONS AT WAR - THE TRUTH BEHIND McKILLEN AND QUINLAN FEUD - The full depth of the bitterness between two of Ireland's once wealthiest men, Paddy McKillen and Derek Quinlan, has been revealed for the first time. Both men have given the most candid account yet of their loathing for one another and weariness of this country in a series of interviews with US magazine 'Vanity Fair', writes the Irish Independent. The bad blood dates back almost exactly a decade to when Mr Quinlan convinced Mr McKillen to join a consortium to buy four of London's most luxurious hotels in August 2004. Those hotels - the Savoy, the Berkeley, the Connaught and Claridge's - were eventually bought for more than a €1 billion, sparking a battle for ultimate control that has involved some of the best-known names in business. A bitter Mr McKillen compares Mr Quinlan to Judas after the former partner gave away voting rights in the crucial battle for control of the hotels several years later. "Not many times in your life do you just feel your partner sitting beside you has just thrown you under the bus," he says. Mr Quinlan, for his part, gloats that Mr McKillen now finds himself forced to cede control of his stake to a US hedge fund.
ORGANIC SECTOR NEARS €100m - Almost 90% of consumers have bought organic produce in the last 12 months as the value of the organic retail sector approaches €100m. A study of the sector released yesterday by Bord Bia values annual organic food sales at €99.1m, up from €97 in 2013. The figures represent a return to growth for the first time since 2010 for the sector which peaked at a value of €106m in 2010, says the Irish Examiner. The main reasons for buying organic foods, cited by respondents to the survey, were that the produce is healthier; good for the environment; and free from chemicals, pesticides and antibiotics. The most prolific organic consumers are urban-living, middle class females. Notably, 60% of respondents to the survey said they would buy organic foods for romantic occasions; the same number of those who give organic foods as a present and slightly more than those that purchase similar goods for dieting and detox.
CYNK SINKS AFTER 36,000% CLIMB - The meteoric rise of Cynk Technology, a former penny stock which appears to boast one employee and no reported revenues, stalled abruptly on Thursday when shares of the would-be social media company tumbled by as much as a third, wrties the Financial Times. Cynk listed for 5 cents a share in May and then saw its shares multiply by 36,000% to give the practically unknown company a market value of $6 billion - more than Sina, the Chinese operator of Weibo, a microblog with more than 100 million active users. In regulatory filings, Cynk has described itself as a “development stage company” trying a different approach to social networking from Facebook or Twitter: asking users to pay for introductions to new contacts. Its business model contrasts with the early strategies of most social networks that have launched as free services and later attracted advertising. However, Cynk has yet to report any revenues at all. The most recent accounts filed show that it generated no revenues from its inception in May 2008 until the end of September 2013, with zero assets and an accumulated loss over the five-year period of $1.5m. That comes in spite of an entry in its digital little black book for actor Leonardo DiCaprio suggesting that 78 people have paid the $50 fee for contact details for his agent and publicist.