IBOA angry at Bank's attempt to renege on key agreement

Issued : 16 February 2012

IBOA The Finance Union is becoming increasingly concerned at Bank of Ireland management's failure to engage in proper consultation and negotiation on major changes in work practices - in contravention of a major agreement between the parties.

"While we have negotiated a comprehensive agreement with Bank of Ireland on the restructuring of the Bank's operations - which we agreed to amend further just a few months ago, it now appears that the Bank is intent on pressing ahead with significant changes in a number of areas without proper consultation and agreement with the staff who will be affected by them," saidIBOA General Secretary, Larry Broderick.

"These actions contravene the undertakings given by the Bank in the restructuring plan which was negotiated in conjunction with the EU Commission and the Department of Finance.

"Given that our members in Bank of Ireland have shown a willingness to engage with the challenges presented in recent years, it is all the more surprising that the Bank's management should be seeking to introduce change in such a provocative manner.

"While our existing agreement with the Bank provides mechanisms through which these issues could be addressed in a reasonable fashion, the new approach being adopted by the Bank could create unnecessary difficulties with potentially dangerous consequences - especially if our members feel that they are being bullied into new working arrangements against their will.

"When IBOA challenged management to explain this sudden change in our established relationship, the Bank advised us that it was responding to pressure being generated by the Department of Finance. Although we have no way of verifying the Bank's explanation in this instance, we are aware from our dealings with other institutions covered by the State guarantee that intervention by the Department of Finance in their day-to-day operations is becoming increasingly problematic," said the IBOA leader.

"Despite comments by various Cabinet Ministers to the effect that the Government has no wish to micro-manage financial institutions, unfortunately that appears to be precisely what is happening - and with adverse consequences. Rather than advancing the recovery of Irish banking, this Departmental interference is having a detrimental effect by adding needless complications, creating unnecessary frustration among key stakeholders and ultimately delaying the resolution of the many challenges facing Irish banking.

"The opportunity for meaningful engagement between the parties in Bank of Ireland is being undermined by management's unnecessary macho-style approach. If Bank of Ireland management persists in these attempts to force through changes without proper consultation with staff, then our Bank of Ireland Executive Committee will have to consider all options at its next meeting - up to and including industrial action."