Union says bank threatened staff over new roster
Published 04/09/2010 | 05:00
A union has claimed Ulster Bank threatened to move staff to other branches if they refused to work new opening hours.
The Irish Bank Officials' Association (IBOA) said its members were pressurised to volunteer to work extended hours that include Saturday openings.
It said that management "intimated" that they would be "transferred" if they did not put themselves forward to cover the extended hours.
An agreement between the bank and union brokered by a mediator said Saturday working should be voluntary. It said if sufficient staff did not volunteer to enable a branch to open, it would not open unless the bank recruited extra staff.
In return for working the extended hours, it said staff would get seven hours off per week in time in lieu.
IBOA members voted against the mediator's proposal last month.
However, the bank is expected to begin the extended hours next week after getting enough volunteers.
"It's been reported to us by staff that it was put to them that their failure to volunteer might result in transfer," said an IBOA spokesperson.
"One of our chief concerns is that staff may have been placed under undue pressure to volunteer. The mediator's recommendation -- which the bank has accepted -- committed the bank to a voluntary arrangement and that should have been respected.
"If they didn't want to participate they shouldn't have been put under duress."
The union said it had raised its concerns over the way the issue was handled with Ulster Bank and the mediator. It said it is also concerned that staff who did not volunteer might be "unduly penalised" in the weeks ahead.
The bank insisted the employees were asked to work Saturdays on an "entirely voluntary basis" and rejected claims it threatened to transfer them.
"In implementing the change to the opening hours we followed our procedural agreement with the union," said a spokesperson.
"Employees were asked to work Saturdays on an entirely voluntary basis. This included referring the matter to an independent mediator who issued a set of proposals to which both parties agreed."
The new opening hours mean Ulster Bank branches will open from 9.30am to 4.30pm on weekdays, bar Wednesday when they will open at 10am, and there will be Saturday openings at some branches, to be announced next week.