Bank workers fight AIB move to axe company cars

AIB is owed nearly €27m by the company and had appointed joint receivers.

Gordon Deegan

A group of bank workers are claiming that there are being unfairly treated by Allied Irish Banks plans to strip them of company cars.

As part of a cost-cutting measure, the AIB is proposing that the bank's Financial Planning Consultants (FPCs) no longer have their functional cars.

The move is being strenuously resisted by the Irish Bank Officials Association (IBOA).

Before the Labour Court, AIB has argued that the role of the FPC has changed immensely and the majority of FPCs are now branch-based or at the most are required to travel between two branches, if at all. The bank told the court that the decision to remove the functional cars was taken following a cost-benefit analysis carried out in order to reduce overheads.

The bank also contended that there is no financial loss suffered by any FPC as a result of the move.

However, on behalf of the FPCs, the IBOA has argued that the functional car is an essential element of the FPC role as they are required to be mobile.

The union also contended that the functional car is a contractual entitlement and cannot be removed unilaterally by AIB. In its submission before the Labour Court, it claims that AIB's "unilateral attempt to terminate the contractual provision of functional cars to FPCs has a very serious negative impact on the overall remuneration for our members in this role".

The IBOA says the FPCs have already contributed to the savings required by AIB.

"They have increased their working week and have accepted the closure of their defined benefit pension scheme. Furthermore they are taking on increased workloads as the numbers of FPCs employed by AIB reduces," according to the union.

Arguing for the retention of the cars, the IBOA states: "FPCs are the only group of employees in AIB Bank that have suffered this additional reduction to their remuneration package. It is totally unreasonable for the employer to take this unilateral action."

The IBOA points out that managers have had 'status cars' – those deemed not essential to the role – removed. The IBOA states that "nevertheless these managers received a non-pensionable allowance to compensate for the loss of the cars".

In its submission, the IBOA states that the functional cars are essential to the work of FPCs "yet the bank has made no similar offer of compensation to our members even though their claim for the provision of transport is much greater".

The IBOA states: "The bank has not only failed to provide any objective criteria as to why the FPC's cars should be removed – but has also compensated other less-deserving employees with a car allowance."

In response to arguments made by both sides, the Labour Court has recommended that both parties would benefit from further engagement with the assistance of the Labour Relations Commission (LRC) if necessary.

A spokeswoman for AIB said yesterday: "AIB has received a recommendation from the Labour Court and is now considering this recommendation."