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Thursday 7 December 2023 Dublin: 9°C
Leah Farrell
The Banks

Union seeks 'urgent' WRC intervention over Bank of Ireland's plan to cut workforce by 1,400

The Financial Services Union has written to the WRC seeking conciliation.

THE UNION THAT represents a majority of Bank of Ireland staff members has written to the Workplace Relations Commission, seeking “urgent” intervention over the bank’s plans to cut 1,400 jobs.

Earlier this month, the bank said that it would roll out a voluntary redundancy scheme with the aim of reducing its headcount from 10,400 to below 9,000 in a bid to cut costs.

The Financial Services Union (FSU) now claims that the proposal breaches the terms of an existing change management agreement between staff and the bank.  

At the time, FSU general secretary John O’Connell said he was “surprised” by the announcement and described it as “one of the biggest cultural missteps in banking history in Ireland”.

The FSU has now written to the WRC, asking for a conciliation process to be set up between the union and the bank.

Commenting on today’s development, O’Connell said, “These proposals were made unilaterally, in a way which was not in keeping with normal industrial relations practise.

“We have long-standing agreements with Bank of Ireland, which were cast aside in this case.”

“We have sought the intervention of the Workplace Relations Commission and look forward to meaningful engagement from Bank of Ireland as we seek to ensure protections for staff.”

A spokesperson for Bank of Ireland said, “We previously announced that we were launching a group-wide voluntary redundancy programme to colleagues.

“This is an enhanced scheme, which is voluntary, and is now open to all colleagues. We are engaging with all representative bodies throughout this programme and we will continue to do so.”

“We appreciate that this is an important decision for colleagues and we are providing a range of practical supports including tax, pension, education and career advice as well as a continued focus on their wellbeing. 

Bank of Ireland also said that it has “engaged with all employee representative bodies and will “continue to do so”.

“We have had significant engagement with the FSU, and we have further meetings planned over the coming weeks”, the bank added.

The “enhanced” package being offered to workers includes 4 weeks’ pay per year of service, instead of the statutory two weeks, and a €5,000 training grant.

Bank of Ireland chief executive Francesca McDonagh announced the cuts on 5 August, shortly after the bank reported a loss of €667 million for the first six months of 2020.

These losses mostly relate to a decision to write down the value of the bank’s loan book by between €936 million and €1.3 billion in anticipation of a potential wave of defaults caused by the pandemic.

In 2018, the bank announced plans to cut 2,000 jobs by 2021, around 500 of which have gone so far.

In March, the FSU engaged with the banks to secure a pause on redundancies during the Covid-19 crisis. Both AIB and Ulster Bank agreed to temporarily halt their redundancy programmes at the time.  

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