Business as usual when it comes to employee perks
THE country's three biggest banks insisted last night they will continue to pay for staff to join golf and leisure clubs -- despite taxpayers being forced to pick up the tab.
And State-owned Anglo Irish Bank admitted it too pays -- through the billions of euro in taxpayer funds it receives -- the average annual perk of €878 per employee to join gyms and clubs. It emerged yesterday that AIB pays employees up to €2,500 each towards joining clubs.
The three troubled institutions confirmed last night that they had no immediate plans to cancel the perks. This is despite multibillion-euro losses that forced the State to take over Anglo Irish Bank and pump €3.5bn into both AIB and Bank of Ireland (BoI) to keep them afloat.
Staff at both AIB and BoI are bracing themselves for thousands of job losses. But it is business as usual as far as employee benefits go.
Shareholders in Anglo have seen their pension funds decimated. But employees will continue to enjoy the policy "where, as an integral part of their pay, managers and assistant managers are paid an allowance, through the payroll, for a club subscription associated with well-being, sport or fitness".
Both AIB and BOI said they were reviewing all potential cost-cutting measures. But, at present, axing the club subscription perk is not on the cards. Both banks refused to say how much the perks were costing them each year.
But Fine Gael's Leo Varadkar said it was time the gravy train was derailed. "Banks have lots of buildings, lots of cars, lots of offices, lots of big salaries and lots of benefits and these are the things that need to be cut back before they increase interest rates on ordinary mortgage holders," he said.
The issue also elicited outrage from callers to the 'Liveline' programme on RTE Radio One yesterday.
A former employee with the now defunct Royal Bank of Ireland said: "In my day there was no such thing as perks. I'm just so annoyed about it all."