Unilateral pensions changes at National Irish Bank

Issued : 30 September 2010

National Irish Bank's announcement that it is seeking to transfer all Bank staff who are currently members of its Defined Benefit pension scheme onto a Hybrid pension scheme has shocked and disappointed IBOA The Finance Union which represents the Bank's employees.

"This change has not been agreed with the Union which has been engaged in a process of negotiation with the Bank on this issue - which was recently referred to an independent mediator, Mr. Kevin Foley. IBOA entered this process in an effort to achieve a settlement which, while recognising the current financial situation in the pension scheme, would at the same time seek to provide staff in the Defined Benefit scheme with the best possible outcome in terms of their retirement income.

"Indeed the parties met the mediator as recently as Monday for talks on this issue. When that meeting was adjourned, neither IBOA nor the mediator believed that the process of engagement was over. Indeed, we have since been preparing for further meetings in a determined effort to advance the process.

"However, it appears from the unilateral announcement today that the Bank has decided that the process of mediation on this matter is now over almost before it began. IBOA is shocked by the Bank's announcement as we have been negotiating in good faith to achieve a workable settlement - as the Bank indeed acknowledges in its comments this morning. Indeed this acknowledgement makes it all the more surprising that the Bank's senior management was unwilling to continue to negotiate on this matter within the previously agreed process.

"The Union's National Irish Bank Executive Committee will meet as soon as possible to consider its response to this development," said the IBOA leader. "As well as considering the issue on its own merits, the Committee will also have to consider its possible consequences for the mediation efforts in relation to a number of other issues which have also been referred to Mr. Foley."