Crucial union vote deadlock delays €405m sale of Lottery

An Post likely to seek extension to technology contract with US supplier

A union vote by 111 lottery staff, who manage the multimillion weekly Lotto draws, produced a deadlock, with 53 workers backing the proposals, 53 opposing and five abstaining.

A union vote by 111 lottery staff, who manage the multimillion weekly Lotto draws, produced a deadlock, with 53 workers backing the proposals, 53 opposing and five abstaining.

 

The State’s protracted lottery privatisation took a new twist yesterday when a crucial union vote on the transfer of the business ended in stalemate.

A vote by the 111 staff, who manage the multimillion weekly Lotto draws, produced a deadlock, with 53 workers backing the proposals, 53 opposing and five abstaining.

The result has left the process in confusion.

The issue is now expected to be referred to the Labour Court, causing further delays and almost certainly derailing the next operator’s transitioning process, which was due to get under way this month.

An Post, the current operator, is now likely to be forced into seeking an extension to its technology contract with US supplier Gtech, which runs out at the end of this year.

However, it is unclear if Gtech, the lottery’s exiting technology partner and the underbidder in the process, will acquiesce with the request, another potential headache for the Government down the road.

The €405 million sale of the State franchise to the Premier Lotteries consortium, which comprises An Post and UK operator Camelot, has been hit by delays because of a row over the proposed transfer of staff to the new operator. Contracts between the Government and Premier Lotteries were supposed to be signed last December with half the cash – already earmarked for the National Children’s Hospital – expected to be in Government coffers by the end of last year.

In a statement last night, the Government said the staff ballot on the Labour Relations Commission (LRC) proposals appeared to be inconclusive.

“We understand that the unions will be meeting early on Monday,” it said.

“Following that, the parties to the proposal, namely the unions, An Post and the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform will meet to clarify next steps.

“Discussions on finalisation of the licence are currently at an advanced stage,” it said.

Premier Lotteries declined to comment on the implications of yesterday’s vote and none of the three unions representing the workers could be contacted.

Under the Labour Relations Commission (LRC) proposals lottery staff, most of whom are on permanent secondment from An Post, were to transfer to the next operator under the transfer of undertakings legislation, which would guarantee their basic pay and conditions.

However, a section of workers are seeking further assurances regarding their future job security before agreeing to the move.

Staff are also seeking a once-off “recognition payment” as part of the transfer to the new operator. The so-called golden handcuff claim is understood to be one of the issues delaying the process.

Although no figure has been attached to the request, the unions are expected to demand a fixed portion of annual salary in recognition of the work done to bring the business to the point where the Government is likely to profit significantly from its sale.

National Lottery boss Dermot Griffin is expected be kept on as chief executive by Premier Lotteries when it takes over at the helm.