Irish Examiner does an Irish ferries


We were assured during the Irish Ferries saga that it could only happen because it was a maritime industry and landbound Irish jobs were safe. Many newspapers editorialised against escalation and for reasoned negotiation etc, the Irish Examiner was no different.But a story absent by and large from the Irish media has been the Examiner Group's move to shed its print workers and replace them with lower paid workers in a 'new company' which will print it's stable of papers on contract. Under the new arrangement workers in Ballina and Cork city were invited to agree redundancy, redeployment or a transfer to the 'new firm' - under new conditions of course. Out of a staff of almost 90 only eleven are transferring to the 'new' firm.

Many who took redundancy and then applied for work at the new plant discovered that trained printers were unwanted and were given short shrift. Instead the 'new' company, Web Concepts, is looking for print technicians and is proposing to pay them in the region of €19,000 per year, quite a drop from the €40,000 average of the old workforce.

Redeployment of workers is something of a joke as the qualified printers are unlikely to easily adjust to answering phones all day or training as reporters, in fact the Examiner had no intention of doing so and discouraged any such illusions. Relocation to the new company was also discouraged and the few who did will find a very new working regime and conditions.

Redundancy conditions are extremely good with five weeks per year served plus another two from the state. We cannot help but think that good jobs with good conditions have again been lost and that the next generation of print workers will have to fight long and hard to get anywhere near this situation again.

The Examiner of course does very well out of this. They get a new printing works with cheaper labour, they have sold their city centre property for millions to developer Owen O'Callaghan and they are rid of a highly unionised and effective group of workers. The future looks bright for Irish Examiner publications as long as you are not a worker.

From Workers Solidarity 90, Jan/Feb 2005
PDF file of WS 90