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Irish Life staff may pursue industrial action over State sell-off

Hundreds of staff will vote tomorrow on whether to take industrial action over the possible breakup and sale of the company.

Irish Life & Permanent chief executive Kevin Murphy: staff at the Irish Life arm of the company are meeting tomorrow to consider potential strike action.
Irish Life & Permanent chief executive Kevin Murphy: staff at the Irish Life arm of the company are meeting tomorrow to consider potential strike action.
Image: Laura Hutton/Photocall Ireland

STAFF OF the state-owned life assurance company Irish Life are to vote tomorrow on whether to pursue industrial action over possible plans to sell or break-up the company.

Staff at the company, which is part of Irish Life & Permanent, fear that the proposed breakup of the institution could threaten their jobs.

The State took full ownership of the institution following the last round of banking stress tests in March, which found that the combined institution – which also includes the retail bank Permanent TSB – needed a further €4bn in state capital.

It is thought that the Irish Life arm of the business – which is considered more profitable than the banking arm – could be sold off in order to recoup the State’s investment.

As a result, trade union UNITE has called a meeting of its staff for tomorrow evening, where workers will be asked to choose on whether staff as a whole should be balloted for potential strike action.

If tomorrow’s meeting agrees to hold a vote, ballot papers will be issued immediately so that a result can be declared by next week.

A UNITE statement said the meeting had been called after management withdrew from negotiations at the Labour Relations Commission.

“The principal issue of greatest concern to staff is the lack of any information on the restructuring of the company in advance of its likely sale,” the statement said.

“This has come to a head through the companies suggested unilateral transferring of employees to a new entity which could take place as soon as the end of this month.”

An officer from the union said staff were being asked to “take a leap off a cliff, on the word of management that are not willing to say where, or even whether, a safety net has been erected”.

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Gavan Reilly

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