21st of June 2010 Author: Glo Wood
Irish retail shops pay cuts questioned
Stories in the Irish media over the weekend illustrate the tough times being experienced by online and land gambling group Ladbrokes, which employs around a thousand people in its 284 Irish retail betting outlets.
The reports focus on a recent Labour Court finding that the gambling company should reverse its decision to cut staff overtime and public holidays pay rates from treble the normal salary to double in the case of public holidays, and to time-and-a-half for Sundays.
The bookmaker cut pay rates for Sundays and bank holidays after experiencing a 90 percent drop in profits last year, one newspaper reported.
Ladbrokes m.d. in Ireland, Joe Lewins, said that the court's recommendation was not binding but would be considered. He said that every bookmaker in Ireland had made similar pay cuts as a result of the economic recession.
''Along with the rest of the industry, we cut premium rates," said Lewins. ''But, unlike most companies out there, no one has lost a job here and there have been no [standard] pay cuts."
The pay cuts followed a government decision to raise betting tax to 2 percent . While the tax increase has been delayed indefinitely, the company went ahead with the pay changes, saying it was necessary to retain jobs.
Company employees challenged the decision, claiming that it was made unilaterally, whilst unions backed the challenge, alleging that the company was profitable and the betting tax increase had been deferred.
The Labour Court responded by recommending that Ladbrokes reverse its pay cuts and enter into discussions with its employees regarding job preservation.
Ladbrokes has closed six betting shops and intimated that another 35 closures may be necessary if the pay decision is reversed. The publicly listed firm posted revenues of Euro 478 million in Ireland in 2008, and made a profit of Euro11.6 million, The Post.ie reports.
''The market is in freefall. But we will work hard and we will come out the other end," Lewins told the newspaper.
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