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Tuesday 16 September 2014

Chaos after thousands of workers don't get paid

Published 02/05/2014 | 02:30

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Employees were left without wages despite early warnings from banks that they would be unable to carry out banking transactions
Employees were left without wages despite early warnings from banks that they would be unable to carry out banking transactions

THOUSANDS of people were left without wages after the May Day holiday on the Continent shut down interbank transactions in this country.

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The employees were left without wages despite early warnings from banks that they would be unable to carry out banking transactions.

One man who spoke to the Irish Independent said he had no money because his public service employer failed to heed the warnings about the shut-down which meant he was not paid.

Despite this, his bank took his mortgage payment out of his account, leaving him short of funds.

"I have no money to buy food for the children. I was not warned about this. It is not good enough," the man, who did not want to be named, said.

Limerick Printing owner Liam Carey said his eight staff did not get paid yesterday, their normal pay day, despite him making arrangements with Ulster Bank to provide the funds for the wages earlier in the week. He added banks in Ireland would be shut again on Monday, leaving two days within a week when no payments were processed.

Around 300,000 banking transactions should have been processed yesterday, according to Mick O'Neill of the Irish Payments Services Organisation.

But because Ireland is now part of the Single European Payments Area (SEPA), and there were no interbank transactions in most EU countries yesterday, banks here were unable to process wage payments or pay direct debits.

Both the European Central Bank and European Clearing House were closed, in what was labelled a "SEPA holiday".

Banks said that the payments freeze will mean payments will not be processed until today.

Mr O'Neill said the Irish Payment Services Organisation (IPSO) ran an information campaign last week in a bid to inform both employers and bank customers of the impending delay in payments. He said nurses and teachers, who get paid every second Thursday, were paid a day early this week after their employers took notice of the payments shut-down.

IPSO said the delay affects all payments, but customers will not miss essential payments such as electricity or heating bills.

"The delay relates to both credit transfers, such as wages and salaries, and direct debits, such as utility bills, mortgage repayments,etc, and as such customers will not miss payments."

The organisation added that retail banks were urged to add a clear message to their websites to inform customers.

Consumers Association Chairman Michael Kilcoyne said it was not good enough that people had been left without money heading into a long weekend.

"It is always the consumer who ends up being inconvenienced. More should have been done to ensure people were not left without money," he said.

Irish Independent

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