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Written Answers. - Job Losses.

Wednesday, 18 December 2002

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 559 No. 6

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 92. Mr. Stanton Information on David Stanton Zoom on David Stanton  asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment Information on Mary Harney Zoom on Mary Harney  the redundancy package on offer to the former IFI workers at Belfast, Arklow and Cork; if her attention has been drawn to the details of special arrangements entered into by the liquidator and the workers at Belfast; if similar arrangements can be considered for the former workers at the other locations; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [26897/02]

Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment (Ms Harney): Information on Mary Harney Zoom on Mary Harney Former workers in IFI will get their full statutory redundancy entitlements, in accordance with the usual terms and conditions of the schemes. I understand that most of the workers made redundant from IFI have now received payments in respect of these entitlements.

In addition, the shareholders, while there is no legal obligation to do so, have established a special ex gratia severance fund with almost €24.5 million for the workers. When combined with statutory entitlements such as redundancy and minimum notice, which based on the statement of affairs produced by the board of IFI are estimated to be worth about €11 million, there will be a total of more than €35 million available. This is sufficient to provide average payments of about €57,000 per worker. At this stage, most of the workers who lost their jobs as a result of the liquidation have received an interim payment of €5,000 from the fund to help them in the short-term pending the determination by the trustee on the shape of the final scheme for the distribution of the available funds.

Both the Irish Government and ICI believe that in setting up the ex gratia fund they are providing severance arrangements which are fair and reasonable in the circumstances. It will be for the ex gratia fund's trustee to decide, after consultations with employee representatives, how payments from the ex gratia fund will be made. It is hoped that this issue can be resolved in the near future and that the final payments from the ex gratia fund can be processed.

I understand also that the liquidator has now accepted, based on legal advice received, that the workers in Belfast have certain contractual rights in respect of severance payments and that these rights will now be recognised as a claim on the liquidation. However, I should point out that, in [1519]accordance with the terms of payments from the ex gratia fund, any sum payable by the liquidator in due course in respect of such rights will be reduced by any sums received from the ex gratia fund.

It is, of course, open to the workers at the other locations to seek to establish that they have similar contractual rights and I understand that the workers' representatives are exploring this possibility at present with the liquidator who is responsible for determining whether such rights exist.

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