QUINN-HEALTHCARE TO PULL OUT OF FERMOY
The town of Fermoy was dealt another blow this week as insurance company Quinn-healthcare announced that it is to relocate all employees to the company’s recently opened complex in Little Island.
While staff have been assured that no jobs will be lost as a result of the move, the announcement that all posts are to transfer to Little Island within six months sees approximately 300 jobs leave Fermoy. The decision comes one week after over 100 jobs were cut at Sanmina SCI’s plant in the town.
Donal Clancy, general manager at Quinn-healthcare said the company made the decision to facilitate continued business growth and to improve the working environment of the Quinn-healthcare team.
The news comes less than 3 months after the company had given assurances that it would stay in Fermoy following fears sparked by the recent opening of the Little Island complex. Speaking to The Avondhu Mr Clancy said that the decision was pragmatic and was made in the last few days, adding that the company made the announcement soon after in the interest of being up front with staff and to avoid the plans leaking or causing rumours.
Mr Clancy said a number of options had been considered, including the part-relocation of the team to Little Island, but splitting the team could have impacted adversely on the delivery of customer service.
He added that the company no longer has enough room in the Fermoy facility and that running the operation in two sites was financially unsustainable in the long term.
“We are acutely aware that we are growing as a business and of our need to expand. Our Cork office allows us to be located as one team in a first-class modern building with the ideal office environment,” he said.
Michael Hanley of the Fermoy Enterprise Board said the peculiarity in all this is that business people can make decisions that really hurt. This is such an example and unfortunately is another cruel blow to the town”.
“If this was a foreign company, we would be saying, now they’ve reaped the benefits they are gone. But in this case it is an Irish company. The only positive side to it all is that the jobs are safe.”
Mr Hanley said what must emerge from this latest debacle is that hopefully the image of the town will not be tarnished and that Fermoy will still be seen as ‘a great place to do business’.
“The site is second to none as has been confirmed to us by previous tenants, BUPA and MetLife. Furthermore, they assured us that the workforce and their productivity levels here in Fermoy have been simply brilliant.”
Mayor of Fermoy Tadhg O’Donovan said that millions will be lost to the local economy and has claimed that the decision is “a result of a conspiracy between the Government and the Quinn group to give greater Cork city area a job boost in preference to the rural town of Fermoy.”
The mayor said that he was ‘outraged’ and said that he believed that Quinn-healthcare and the Government were using the local workforce as ‘pawns’. Sean Quinn, he added, gave his commitment to Fermoy when taking on the business in the town.
“Now at the drop of a hat the workers have been told to move to Little Island or their jobs are gone. It shows the contempt the Quinn Group has for the Fermoy workforce.”
“The collusion between the Government and Quinn Insurance to move to Little Island will result in the Fermoy economy, at the worst possible time, being thrown in to turmoil,” O’Donovan said, adding that he was adamant that the Government and the Quinn Group worked “hand in glove to force the workforce to move.”
“It is painfully obvious that the present Government policy towards Fermoy is one of utter contempt,” he claimed.
Fermoy town councillors, Michael Hanley and Peter Merrigan have called on Mayor O’Donovan to call an emergency meeting of the local authority to address the massive job losses to the area. Cllr Hanley said that he was ‘deeply hurt and shocked’ at the news and said that the mayor needs to forgo the three-day notice formality in calling for a meeting of the town council.
“While there will obviously be genuine business reasons given by the owners of Quinn-healthcare, that doesn’t take away from the depth of the hurt that we are now experiencing. It seems to be one continuous blow after another and my problem now is, and my concern will be that Quinn will issue a healthy statement in terms of Fermoy’s attractiveness as a location and that they give credit to the town for how they have been supportive since they came here,” Cllr Hanley said.
Cllr Merrigan expressed his concern for Fermoy’s image given recent events.
“It is very very disappointing given the assurances the company had given on its future in Fermoy. While unfortunately the move is understandable from a rationalisation point of view it is not sending out a positive message for Fermoy. At least the jobs are protected, with the move the Irish economy isn’t losing but Fermoy will,” he said.
Deputy Ned O’Keeffe, who last year indicated that a move out of Fermoy was on the cards, this week blasted the management at Quinn – healthcare as ‘untruthful’.
“They haven’t been telling the truth”, O’Keeffe told The Avondhu. “I was aware of this decision in 2007 but they blatantly denied it then. You cannot treat employees like this. I am calling on them to apologise”, he fumed.
Local Labour TD Sean Sherlock said that, in the context of the current economic climate, it was some comfort that staff were not losing their jobs.
“At least there are incomes coming back into houses in North Cork. I believe the staff themselves are not too put out by this decision and we have to take account of what staff are saying. If their feedback is largely positive this should be borne in mind. It’s a pity that Quinn-healthcare could not have been accommodated in a premises nearer the town when they went to consolidate their business but if this decision has been made in the bigger context of keeping jobs that has to be kept in mind,” Deputy Sherlock said.
Cork county councillor Aileen Pyne echoed Deputy Sherlock’s sentiments, expressing her dismay that Quinn had to move to Little Island to consolidate their businesses when the Fermoy industrial park on the Dublin Road lies idle. She once again called on Enterprise Ireland and the IDA to relax criteria for the site to promote new business.
“As a public representative of Fermoy I am devastated. The departure of Quinn to Little Island will have a detrimental socio economic effect on the town. Bearing in mind the announcement by SCI last week, I would say that this is a black day for Fermoy. I welcome that there are no job losses but Fermoy will have lost greatly as a result of this,” she said.
Cllr Hanley told The Avondhu that he believed the BUPA, Quinn-healthcare’s predecessors in Fermoy, would not have left the town.
“Fermoy and its future is of paramount importance and the wrong signals can’t be sent out here. That those who are suffering or downsizing altogether should speak out strongly in terms of what Fermoy has to offer and while terms and conditions may not be found in their favour that they leave us in the best grace."
Cllr Hanley added, “What is of paramount importance to me is the image of Fermoy as a good place to do business in. We have always had an outstanding record with regard to no strikes or causes being argued that were not in the interest of any company here. Faber-Castell particularly proved that by being here for 35 years without any strike and so the image of our employees is very important.”
Mr Clancy said that Quinn-healthcare appreciated the ongoing support it received from both the Quinn-healthcare team and the people of Fermoy.
"We will be working closely with the team to ensure that the transition to a new location works as smoothly as possible, and to minimise any inconvenience involved. We are confident that Quinn-healthcare will continue to benefit the local Fermoy economy as the vast majority of our team reside in the Fermoy area” he said.
Cllr Hanley revealed that as a member of the Fermoy Enterprise Board he would seek Sean Quinn’s assistance in replacing the health insurer in the town.
“What I would now be saying to the management of Quinn Direct, seeing as he has many strings to his bow, that he would maybe support the Enterprise Board locally and whoever else is seeking to establish some other type of industry there or help us through his undoubted influence in that area, that he would help us to source another form of activity that would be suitable for that place,” Cllr Hanley concluded.
Cllr Kevin O’Keeffe said that while he was thankful that no jobs were lost, the news was an economic blow for Fermoy.
“With FCI closing in the last couple of years, SCI downgrading and now this, Fermoy has seen the closure or scaling down of its three major businesses,” he said.
Cllr Liam O’Doherty believed that while the news was bad for the town, it could have been a lot worse.
“It will inconvenience a lot of people but at least there are no jobs lost. These jobs could have been gone two years ago but thanks to Sean Quinn they’re not and we should remember that. The staff there got better news this week than the people in SCI got last week,” Cllr O’Doherty said.
Thursday 5th March 5:59pm