IBRC workers angry at further delay in addressing redundancy issue

Issued : 10 March 2014

IBRC workers who are facing compulsory redundancy are furious that a mediator's efforts to secure fair compensation have been stymied at the last moment. The workers - many of whom earn less than €30,000 a year - have already helped to sell €10 billion worth of loans to the benefit of the taxpayer and have been working to ensure that the State gets the best possible return from the sale of further assets from the company. But they are they being forced to consider withdrawing their co-operation in protest at their unfair treatment at the hands of the authorities. IBOA The Finance Union - which represents the workers - is preparing to conduct a consultative ballot on the issue.

Even though IBRC workers knew that their future prospects were limited once the State took control of Anglo Irish Bank and the Irish Nationwide Building Society at the end of 2008, the timetable for the wind-down of the IBRC was suddenly accelerated in February 2013 when the Oireachtas passed emergency legislation to liquidate the company as part of its effort to address the promissory notes issue. One of the unintended consequences of the special liquidation was the withdrawal of the redundancy terms which had been signed off by the Department of Finance just fourteen months before. Instead the IBRC workers were offered only the legal minimum entitlements - worth less than half of the agreed terms.

Even though the workers have received support from Dáil deputies and Senators from right across the political spectrum who are horrified that the emergency legislation has had such a catastrophic effect, a year has passed without a solution.

"These workers have become the collateral damage in the State's solution to the promissory notes issue," said IBOA General Secretary, Larry Broderick. "Considering the enormous sums of money involved in working out the IBRC loan book and compared to the very extraordinary fees being paid to the battery of accountants, lawyers and consultants involved in the special liquidation process, the cost of providing fair and reasonable compensation for the IBRC workers is relatively minor especially taking account of the vital work they perform in managing the loan book.

"But the intensive efforts of the Chief Executive of the Labour Relations Commission, Kieran Mulvey, to broker a settlement in consultation with all of the parties involved - including the special liquidator, NAMA and the Department of Finance - have encountered a serious obstacle in the last couple of days despite previous assurances that there was sufficient goodwill on all sides to suggest that his mediation initiative could be successful.

"Having shown remarkable patience while investing a great deal of hope in Mr. Mulvey's intervention, the IBRC workers are bitterly disappointed at the latest developments. As some colleagues have already left the company with only the bare legal minimum and more are due to depart later this month, they have a strong sense that time could soon run out for them. As desperate times often lead to desperate measures, they must now consider all of their options in a final effort to secure justice - including withdrawing co-operation from the preparations for the disposal of the IBRC loans. IBOA is now advising all prospective buyers of IBRC loans that withdrawal of co-operation is now under active consideration.

"When the special liquidation of IBRC was originally enacted by the Oireachtas, the Minister for Finance tried to play down the importance of the redundancy issue by suggesting that most of the IBRC would secure alternative employment with agencies like NAMA that would take on the management of the IBRC loans after liquidation. In the event, it appears as though a substantial proportion of the loans will be sold to private equity companies who are likely to offer little or no employment to the IBRC workers.

"So the threat of compulsory redundancy is now very real and very close for many IBRC workers. Under these circumstances, I believe it is incumbent on the Minister of Finance to intervene to support Mr. Mulvey's effort to achieve a final settlement which is broadly in line with the commitment given by the Department of Finance before that fateful night in February 2013,