Staff at a Cork hotel and golf resort which has closed for January are facing temporary layoffs after being told an extended closure could save the owner thousands in commercial rates.
It follows a meeting between representatives of the owners of the Blarney Hotel and Golf Resort and staff members late last week.
The staff were told that following discussions with Cork City Council, the owners are considering extending the closure into February to secure a rate cut for a vacant premises.
Premises which are classed as vacant pay rates at a 50% discount.
Staff were told that by extending the closure through February, the owners could save €12,000 in rates.
However, a spokesperson for the city council said while it has become responsible for the collection of commercial rates in the extended city area since January 1, it has not yet approached rates customers in the ‘transition areas’ — former county areas which became part of the city last May — to discuss their rates liabilities.
The hotel has closed for the month of January in previous years but its leisure centre and gym always remained open.
Staff and customers were left shocked the week before last when 10 leisure centre and spa workers were issued with temporary redundancy notices after the leisure centre and pool closed suddenly and with immediate effect.
More than 50 hotel and golf course workers now face the real possibility of being issued with temporary layoff notices on January 31 if the hotel closure is extended into February.
Solidarity TD Mick Barry said if a deal has been done between this employer and the city council, it would set a dangerous precedent.
“Are other hotels going to go down the temporary layoff route in quieter months in order to start availing of rate cuts?” he said.
“I understand that a decision on whether to close for the month of February isn’t going to be communicated until January 31 but I don’t think loyal hotel workers will be impressed with temporary layoffs and I don’t think members of the resort will be impressed with a one month closure even with refunds.”
Mr Barry said the treatment of workers is appalling and a real indication of how growing numbers of workers are in precarious and vulnerable positions in Leo Varadkar’s Ireland.
He said without firm guarantees that the hotel and golf resort will stay open after the temporary layoffs, fears are sure to grow among staff and customers that the hotel complex may face more than a temporary closure.