Belfast Telegraph

Friday 29 August 2014

Quinn staff losers in high-stakes bet

The loyalty being shown to Sean Quinn in spite of the collapse of his business empire is nothing less than astonishing at a time when ordinary people hold little sympathy for bankers or big businesses. While Mr Quinn may have been responsible in large part for his financial woes due to his ill-judged gamble on Anglo Irish Bank shares, his former employees prefer to remember him as the man who brought thousands of jobs to the employment-starved Fermanagh-Cavan border region and they would like to see him back at the helm of his insurance, glass and cement conglomerate.

Employers throughout the world must envy the loyalty shown to Mr Quinn, even if it will not reinstate him to control of his business interests. The measures set in train to put the diverse business back on a sounder footing will continue in spite of the sit-in at the company's Derrylin headquarters and that is the reality no matter what the workforce may wish.

It is easy to share the concerns of the Quinn workforce. They enjoyed many years of gainful employment and expansion at the hands of a man they knew well and whose family lived in the area for generations. His was the archetypical rise from humble beginnings to a billionaire fortune and mention in the rich-list bible, Forbes.

Now the business will be run by faceless administrators or sold off in parts to international companies and the natural fear is that the workforce's loyalty will take second place to the bottom line returns.

The hope is that as much of the business as possible will be saved and as many jobs as possible retained. Such is the influence of the Quinn empire in the area that it would be a disaster if its fortunes cannot be turned around. Certainly there is no short-term prospect of new employers coming into the area to mop up any workers made redundant in the restructuring. Mr Quinn may have gambled and lost a sizeable chunk of his own fortune. The workers are now hoping that they don't end up as collateral damage.

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