Union to seek advice on Eircom business plan


THE Communications Workers Union (CWU) plans to appoint independent financial advisers to examine Eircom management’s new three-year business plan, which is believed to involve a large number of redundancies and significant changes to work practices.

This followed a lengthy meeting of the CWU’s national executive to discuss the business plan, which has been drawn up by Eircom’s chief executive Paul Donovan.

CWU general secretary Steve Fitzpatrick said weekend reports that Eircom’s management was planning to cull another 2,000 jobs at the company were “complete speculation”. “It is impossible at this stage to form a view on the number of jobs that may be impacted as a result of any future agreement on the company’s direction, over and above the agreements that are already in place,” he said.

Eircom is currently concluding a voluntary redundancy programme that will see 1,200 staff leave the business by September – six months ahead of the target set when the scheme was announced last year.

Eircom employs about 6,500 staff, with the CWU representing the majority of those.

Mr Fitzpatrick said a comprehensive new strategy was required to address the “serious challenges” facing Eircom, without which “neither Eircom’s new owners STT nor the [employee] Esot will be in a position to invest in the company to sustain its long-term future”.

He criticised the regulatory regime that Eircom has to operate under, which was “compounded by a total lack of interest from the mandarins at the Department of Communications and our Green [Party] minister Eamon Ryan”.

Mr Fitzpatrick said all branch secretaries and partnership co-ordinators would be invited to CWU headquarters next week for a briefing on the Eircom business plan.

The CWU also plans to convene a special delegate conference in early September to consider the proposed plan; the results of investigations by the union’s advisers; and progress on creating a framework agreement with the company.

On Monday, Mr Donovan told The Irish Timeshe hoped to reach agreement with Eircom’s unions on the new business plan by October.

Mr Donovan wants to slim down the company to position Eircom to make a substantial investment in a fibre network.

Mr Fitzpatrick said any reduction in headcount would have to be by “voluntary response”. “This will continue to be the CWU’s position,” he added.