Trump Doonbeg resort taps Government wage subsidy scheme

Trump Organization also seeking government support in Scotland

Donald Trump’s Doonbeg resort has laid off most of its staff. Photograph: Getty

Donald Trump’s Doonbeg resort has laid off most of its staff. Photograph: Getty

 

The Trump Organization is among the companies seeking Government help to cover wages at its Irish operations, availing of the wage subsidy scheme at its Trump International Golf Links and Hotel in Doonbeg, Co Clare.

The group is also tapping UK government bailout money to cover payments to bar staff, bagpipers and other employees furloughed from its golf properties.

Overseas businesses owned by US president Donald Trump can tap government funds meant to help retain workers. In the US, by contrast, they’re specifically written out of the enormous US economic relief package. The result is a potentially stark gap between how workers in different countries may weather the crisis, even within the same global operation.

In the Republic and the UK, where Trump owns three money-losing golf resorts including Doonbeg in Co Clare and two in Scotland, companies can tap enough government cash to pay most of their workers’ salaries. It’s unclear whether the Trump Organization is paying the balance of the salaries for furloughed workers.

In the US, roughly 2,000 employees dismissed from Trump golf courses and hotels will have to line up with millions of others to apply for unemployment payments.

Alan Garten, the Trump Organization’s chief lawyer, didn’t respond to requests for comment. Managers at two of the sites said they had taken measures offered by the government to protect their employees.

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Mr Trump’s three resorts in Scotland and Ireland were just gearing up for the golf season before governments ordered businesses to close last month to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. Now they’re among the tens of thousands of companies seeking to tap state relief programmes.

Vast majority laid off

“We’ve laid off the vast majority of our staff,” Joe Russell, the managing director of Trump’s Doonbeg resort, said in an interview. He declined to say how many had been let go or furloughed under the government’s wage subsidy program. “We are ensuring they’re looked after in terms of the government schemes that are available,” he said.

The Government’s wage subsidy programme, which has been up and running for several weeks, pays companies to cover 70 per cent of furloughed staff’s weekly take-home pay, subject to a cap, as long as they’re kept on the payroll. For the lowest earners, the government will cover as much as 85 per cent starting next month.

The UK formally launched a similar programme on Monday to cover 80 per cent of workers’ salaries capped at £2,500 (€2,845), receiving applications from more than 140,000 companies on the first day.

Companies in both countries must apply for the funds on behalf of their employees and are encouraged to make up the difference so workers can get their full salaries.

Mr Russell, the manager at Trump Doonbeg, declined to say whether the resort was topping off the government-funded wages. He said that staff numbers vary according to the season but that during peak times the resort employs about 300 people.

The resort was due to open at the end of March, leaving those scheduled to start in limbo until the government stepped in with additional direct payments to support workers nationally affected by the lockdown, said Rita McInerney, a local business owner who lives nearby.

McInerney said the resort has about 90 year-round employees, some of whom are continuing to work as part of a skeletal maintenance staff. She said she’d heard from locals that the rest who’ve been let go are using the government wage subsidy programme.

“If by availing itself of government subsidies it keeps the business employing people here, then of course they should use it,” Ms McInerney said. “The Trump Organization have been very good to local community.”

The Doonbeg resort in Ireland, which Mr Trump bought in 2014, lost €1.5 million in 2018, but revenue increased by 7 per cent to €11.4 million, according to filings. – Bloomberg