Banks target own staff who are in arrears
AIB and Bank of Ireland have refused to rule out taking court actions against their own employees who are in arrears on their mortgages and personal loans.
The two big banks refused to reveal how many of their 25,000 staff are now behind on repayments on residential mortgages and buy-to-let loans given out at the end of the property boom.
However, bank staff who have contacted the Irish Independent claim to have been threatened with court judgements from their employers after falling behind on payments because their spouses have become unemployed.
AIB said in a statement released yesterday: "Where staff are customers of the bank, we treat them as we would any of our customers."
The bank said in that context staff who found themselves in financial trouble should make this clear to their bosses as soon as possible and they would be treated with "empathy''.
"We work closely with our customers so that the most appropriate financial plan can be put in place for the repayment of outstanding loans,'' said the bank.
Bank of Ireland also declined to say whether any of its staff might be facing court proceedings.
However, the bank also issued a statement, saying of staff and customers: "We do not differentiate between the two in any way.
"We encourage customers who are in financial difficulty to contact us as early as possible and we will work with them to reschedule repayments.
"Going the court route is the final option for the bank after every other possible option has been explored."
Staff who have contacted the Irish Independent said credit was extended easily by bank staff to other employees because their earnings were easily checked and there was significant job security during the boom years.
However, the new group managing director for AIB, Colm Doherty, left staff in little doubt last month that the group is hatching a plan to bring in voluntary redundancies, having reduced its headcount by some 1,500 people over the last year as a result of natural wastage.
Bank of Ireland chairman Pat Molloy said this week that the bank will continue to prioritise cost cutting, following the loss of 1,700 staff from natural attrition over the last year.
Sources close to the company insisted, however, that this should not be seen as a thinly veiled signal that job shedding is imminent.