Where SIPTU is making the games people play now
Few SIPTU Health members may realise that if you are playing Monopoly, Trivial Pursuit, Guess Who, Connect 4, Battleships, Cluedo, Top Trumps, 30 Seconds or Sequence there is a very strong possibility that they were produced by fellow SIPTU members in the Cartamundi Ireland Ltd in Waterford City.
These are just some of the products produced at Europe’s largest games manufacturing facility in the Cartamundi Group. The Waterford plant opened in 1977 and since then it has produced tens of millions of board games.
Initially, the plant was run by Hasbro but since 2015 it has been part of the Belgian family-owned Cartamundi Group.
SIPTU Chief Shop Steward Tom ‘Tucker’ Healy, said: “The company believes in excellence through investment in its people. Such an approach works well with the aims of the trade union to see workers leading fulfilling working lives with good conditions and wages that can support a family life.”
Such an approach has resulted in many of its approximately 280 full-time SIPTU members remaining at the plant for decades. Tom has been employed in the plant since 1987 while his fellow shop steward, Bridget Burrows, has 32 years of service.
“When I started working here I didn’t think I would be here for that length of time. However, I work with a great team of people. This plant has allowed me to rear my daughter and send her to university, so it’s also been a rewarding place to work.”
The workforce is mainly drawn from the local Waterford area, with some travelling from south Tipperary and south Kilkenny.
The plant also has a strong tradition of family members working together. Shop Steward, Jane Millea, has worked at Cartamundi for 18 years, her brother also works in the plant and her mother is a former employee. “It’s that sort of place,” she said. “People work here and are happy with it so family members are also interested in getting a job.”
Recent years have provided challenges for the company, with some games production lost to lower cost plants in China and the growth of video games. Tom points out that despite this the plant has weathered the storm. He said: “The plant underwent a restructuring prior to the last recession and even with the rise in popularity of game consoles it has maintained a healthy production schedule with more than 16 million games produced last year.”
With the agreement of the unions, management at the plant has also brought in imaginative initiatives such as whiteboards at each production line for workers to note down their thoughts on improvements. There is also a star reward system by which the production manager rewards staff with tokens for innovation. These can then be used to claim rewards including Cartamundi branded merchandise.
“It’s a system which works well with people pleased to see that their input into the production process is being recognised,” said Tom.
The plant is also a place where many young people get their first experience of being part of the union with the workforce increasing by up to 200 workers during peak production periods. Each of these workers joins SIPTU, even if only for a few months.
General Manager, Barry Morrissey, said: “Cartamundi Ireland are very proud to be part of the Supporting Quality initiative. It is important to us, as an Irish manufacturing company, to our employees, our local community and our customers, to continue to produce quality products here in Waterford.”