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Hello Com' Men
EAMONN McCANN on the boardroom shenanigans at Telecom Eireann.
Eamonn McCann, 29 Sep 1999
Remember all that hype and botheration about people s capitalism and a shareholders democracy and so on during the sell-off of Telecom last March?
Amazing, the people so taken in by the scam that they helped take in others as well.
Eccentric extremists who insisted it was a fit-up for the fat-cats were derided as eccentrics and extremists.
Nice to know, though, that the fat-cats had the decent diplomacy to acknowledge they wouldn t have been able to pull the sting off without help from unexpected quarters. The success of the flotation with the general public was aided by the support of commentators who are not usually pro-business , observed obese feline and former Fianna Fail biggie Ray MacSharry.
Ho. Ha-ha. Fiddledy-dee.
The shares went on sale at 307p. Many wide-eyed thin-cats who bought as many as they couldn t afford also bought the notion that the shares would at least double in value by the day after tomorrow.
Alas and a lack of political understanding, the weekend before last they were changing clammy hands at 331p, hardly enough to cover the broker s commission.
But fear not. There was lashings and leavings of cream for the fat-cats.
McSharry was appointed chairman by his pal and former government colleague Mary O Rourke, at a salary of seven and a half grand for a commitment of one day a week.
O Rourke apppointed another pal and former government colleague, Dick Spring, as a director, at seven thou a year for one day a week.
Spring sits on a remuneration committee which sets the salaries of the company s directors. Hey. A voting member of the body which sets his own salary. Unique.
No. There s a precedent. TDs.
Eight weeks ago, the remuneration committee bumped MacSharry s salary up from #7,500 to #100,000 pa. Spring also voted to increase Spring s salary, from #7,000 to #35,000. The other directors saw their scran soar similarly, of course.
Other directors include Bill Attley, former general secretary of the country s biggest union, SIPTU. O Rourke may well have been impressed by Bill s role in soothing the worries of Telecom workers around the time of the flotation. Everything s going to be OK, Bill predicted. He must look at himself in the mirror these mornings and marvel at his own perspicacity.
Thirty five grand a year. More than double the average industrial wage. For one day a week. Or in MacSharry s case, for the same commitment, #100,000 a year, #1,910 a week.
One day at a time. Sweet jesus.
By commitment we don t mean money will be docked if one or other of the lads fails to show for a meeting. A call to Telecom HQ last week asking about this very matter elicited the response: We don t know what you re talking about . And neither they did.
Chutzpah springs to mind. Also, bare-faced effrontery. The nerve of Nelson. A neck like Dickie Dunwoody s arse.
What contempt the O Rourkes, MacSharrys, Springs and Attleys hold the rest of us in.
How deserving of it we are if we ever listen to their mendacity again.
Lest libel lawyers are even now putting on the writs, be it acknowledged that nothing here adverted to was outwith the law, or contrary to accepted custom and practice.
That s what s criminal. n