Disgruntled EBS workers to strike over 'bonus' cut
Published 14/12/2011 | 05:00
EBS staff will strike for one day next week because management are to receive a Christmas 'bonus' while regular employees will not.
The Unite union, representing disgruntled staff members, said the action could be extended to AIB branches and its parent company if the issue is not resolved.
It is the first industrial action at the company in over 35 years.
Next Tuesday's one-day strike will see staff picket the EBS head office on Burlington Road in Dublin as well as outside branches in the Square shopping centre, Tallaght, and William Street in Limerick.
The dispute revolves around the withdrawal of a "13th month" bonus payment, which is the equivalent of four weeks salary paid at Christmas.
It was cancelled after the State took control of the AIB group which incorporates EBS.
About 370 of the 620 employees will be affected by the cut.
The bonus has been paid to all staff at the EBS for the last 45 years and forms part of their contract of employment.
The Department of Finance refused to approve the payment as it is classed as a bonus. Financial institutions in state ownership or control cannot pay bonuses without Government approval.
However, senior managers at the building society will receive the payment as usual, as in their case it is classed as part of their pensionable salary.
Staff are angry that they are to lose the bonus and that management will not suffer the same financial blow.
Unite regional officer Colm Quinlan said: "We were given no notice that this payment was to be withheld. When staff were advised last week that only managers would receive the payment the level of anger was as strong as I have ever seen."
However, EBS sources have indicated that management have already paid heavily over the last number of years.
No manager has received a bonus since 2008 and they did not receive the same 3pc salary increases given to regular staff in 2009 and 2010. Managers also agreed to considerably higher pension contribution increases than regular staff.
Responding to that, Mr Quinlan said: "It may balance the scales but this year the managers are calling in the staff saying, 'The bad news is that you are not getting your €1,000 bonus but the good news is that I am getting my €7,000'."
He added that the 98pc ballot in favour of industrial action was a measure of the levels of anger felt by employees.
The staff who have been refused the payment earn an average of €30,000 a year and include every grade from assistant manager down. Those above that grade will receive the payment.