The union representing the majority of staff at board games manufacturer Cartamundi, which announced on Wednesday it is close its Waterford plant over the coming months, says it will raise the €31 million in dividends paid over recent years to its Belgian parent company when it meets management for substantive talks on Tuesday.
The company told members of the 234-strong workforce at the plant, which was opened by MB games in 1977 and taken over by Hasbro in 1996 before Cartamundi acquired it in 2015, that it had “been suffering losses for many months now and this is not sustainable”. It said there was overcapacity in the sector following a decline in demand for board games as the pandemic subsided.
However, The Irish Times reported on Thursday that the Belgian parent had taken some €31 million in dividends in the period for which it had owned the operation, including a payment of €2.9 million approved last July.
Company accounts published in October described a “profitable and cash generative” business, and said there were no material uncertainties “that may cast significant doubt” over its ability to continue as a going concern.
On Thursday Siptu’s manufacturing division organiser Greg Ennis said union representatives had met on Thursday to discuss the closure announcement, and that an agreement had been reached with management to hold talks next Tuesday. “The recent disclosures relating to significant annual dividends being paid to Cartamundi since its takeover from previous owners Hasbro in 2015 and the potential viability of the employment will form part of Siptu’s discussions with management next week,” he said.
“The union will do all that it can to try to retain jobs at the Cartamundi facility in Waterford. However, should the jobs not be saved the proposed closure will come as a major blow to the workers, their families and the wider Waterford community, and will undoubtably have significant economic consequences for the south-east.”