Cantillon: No Christmas cheer for redundant Intune workers

Seventy staff will receive neither week’s wages nor statutory redundancy

Intune Networks founder and chief technology officer John Dunne. Photograph: Maxwell

Intune Networks founder and chief technology officer John Dunne. Photograph: Maxwell

 

Intune, it definitely was not, at least not with its departing staff. News that Intune Networks was heading into receivership only exacerbated the plight of 70 workers being let go from their jobs in the run-up to Christmas.

Not only are the staff being made compulsorily redundant, but the smart grid telecoms group’s move means they will not even receive redundancy payments from the business, having to wait instead for the State’s social insurance fund to grind into action.

Worse still, the departing staff have been told that they will not even secure this week’s wages, or any holiday pay they are due – just as Christmas bills mount. Again, they will have to wait until the receiver, Brian McEnery of BDO, processes their claims, just one job among many he faces as he looks to rescue the business.

Meanwhile, Intune continues to trade. The company is leading the development of an Exemplar Communications Network, seen as the first step in creating a next-generation smart and green communications infrastructure for Ireland, having been chosen for the role by former Green minister for communications , and now party leader, Eamon Ryan.

A number of shareholders have made loans to the business, which means they will rank as secured creditors. It is, therefore, in their interest to see the company sold as a going concern so that they stand a reasonable chance of getting their money back.

All of which will be little compensation to those workers facing a bleak Christmas. The shareholders of the company are its owners. They include some very big names – Barry Maloney’s Balderton Capital, Dermot Desmond’s International Investment and Underwriting, Bank of Ireland’s high-profile Kernel Capital Partners and several state-related entities, including Enterprise Ireland, Invest Northern Ireland and the ESB’s Novus Modus clean energy and renewables fund among others.

While the receiver is holding out hope that the prospect of a buyer might encourage these company owners to provide funds for the 40 staff who remain with Intune to be paid this month, failure to do the same for their departing colleagues would leave a distinctly bad taste, particularly at this time of year.