Bank workers should not be victims of political opportunism

Issued : 17 February 2011

IBOA The Finance Union has expressed concern at a number of aspects of Fine Gael's mortgage policy which was announced today. The party says it will direct any mortgage provider in receipt of State support to cut its wage bill and other costs by an extra €100 million over and above any existing plans in order to avoid a 0.25% increase in their variable rate mortgages.

IBOA General Secretary, Larry Broderick, said he was shocked and surprised by the proposal which appears to require further cuts in staff, cuts in wages or a combination of both. "I am horrified that any party would attempt to undermine the job security and terms and conditions of any group of workers in an opportunistic way. Once again, it seems, ordinary bank officials are to be made suffer for the reckless lending practices of senior management.

"While IBOA has already accepted that further restructuring of the financial services sector will take place during 2011, we believe that this should be approached in a strategic fashion - with full consultation, negotiation and agreement with the staff who will be crucial to the success of the exercise.

"If Fine Gael find themselves in Government after the General Election, provocative statements such as these will do little to promote confidence among staff in the financial services sector about the prospects for recovery.

"A policy based on the principle of 'beggar my neighbour' is not conducive to building the sense of social solidarity required to turn the Irish economy round. Contrary to the common misrepresentations, bank officials have, like other taxpayers made considerable sacrifices - as well as enduring job cuts, pay increases foregone and increased pension contributions for reduced benefits. At the same time they have witnessed an almost total collapse in the value of their bank shares - which they were strongly urged to acquire by previous Fine Gael spokespersons,

"Bank officials are sick and tired of being seen as a convenient punch-bag for misdirected anger. Politicians should know better - even amid the hysteria of an election campaign - than to engage in such dangerous and unhelpful opportunism."