Building products manufacturer Quinn Industrial Holdings has temporarily laid off and granted a leave of absence to 600 members of staff.
After the Irish and UK governments last week announced new restrictions to slow the spread of Covid-19, the Co Fermanagh-based company has closed or substantially scaled back all operations that require physical attendance and were not included in the published list of essential businesses.
A spokesman said: “Staff of impacted facilities, approximately 600 staff, will be furloughed or placed on temporary lay-off and paid in accordance with the relevant Government support scheme applicable to their roles.
“QIH recognises this is a very challenging disruption for staff and their families but it is necessary and unavoidable if we are to protect one another from this global pandemic and safeguard the lives of the most vulnerable in our community.
“All QIH directors are also taking take a 50% reduction in salary at this time.”
He added that because packaging is a key product for the food sector, Quinn Packaging has not been impacted and will continue to operate while “adhering to all best practice hygiene and physical distancing guidelines designed to safeguard our staff, customers and the broader community”.
The companies that make up QIH were formerly owned by Sean Quinn, who was once Ireland’s richest man.
His empire collapsed in 2012 and he lost control of his portfolio of businesses. He was later employed as a consultant at his former companies, but left that role in 2016.
Following the collapse of his empire, businessmen backed by three investment funds bought its manufacturing companies in December 2014 – the firms are run by former associates of Mr Quinn.
He returned as a consultant, but left QIH in 2016 amid tension between him and the management team.
QIH director Kevin Lunney was kidnapped and badly beaten last September after being abducted from outside his home in Co Fermanagh.
He suffered knife wounds to his face and neck and had one of his legs broken in two places in a sustained attack, before being dumped at a roadside across the border in Cornafean, Co Cavan.
Mr Quinn has repeatedly condemned the attack on Mr Lunney and said the incident ended any desire he had to return to the Quinn Group.