THOUSANDS of jobs in banking were under threat last night.
The Irish Bank Officials Association predicted the merger of EBS and Allied Irish and the sale of some units belonging to Irish Life & Permanent may lead to "significant" job cuts and some jobs losses may be "inevitable", union boss Larry Broderick said.
"Bank employees should be considered as absolutely vital to the solution -- rather than as part of the problem," Mr Broderick said.
He has previously said that almost 7,000 jobs had been lost at the banks since late 2008, and at least 2,000 more would be cut "in the near future".
The two main banks have lost about 3,300 personnel between them, although most of the cuts were voluntary or came from natural attrition.
Anglo Irish Bank Chief executive Mike Aynsley confirmed yesterday that Anglo will shed 300 jobs by the end of the year, and another 200 after that.
Allied Irish Bank warned its 10,000 Irish staff last month about "radical" restructuring, including job losses. In an email to staff, executive chairman David Hodgkinson said that the results of a review of the company had been submitted to AIB's board of directors and would be discussed with the Government.
"For it to succeed, it will require radical change of a magnitude never before undertaken by AIB," Hodgkinson said.
Senior management will be the first to be affected by job cuts, with further redundancies to be implemented gradually, he said.
The bank said it wanted most of the redundancies to be achieved on a "voluntary basis".
Bank of Ireland is half way through its second redundancy programme which aims to cut 750 jobs -- or 5pc of the 14,000 plus workforce -- by July of next year. The bank shed 2,250 jobs in the 18 months to September 2009 by winding down businesses in the UK and not replacing people who retired or resigned. Anglo Irish said yesterday that is has around 1,100 employees and will reduce the figure to 1,000 by the end of the year. The bank had 1,800 at the beginning of 2009.
In February, Permanent TSB said it would cut up to 350 jobs from its current workforce of 1,800 as both profits and the market shrink. Foreign-owned banks have been even quicker to shed workers.
Ulster Bank scrapped its First Active network with the loss of 1,000 jobs, while Halifax-Bank of Scotland (Ireland) closed 44 retail branches, affecting 750 staff.
Fine Gael repeated many times during the election campaign that the banks would have to start cutting back on staff and perks if the party won office.
Even among the worst performing banks such as Anglo, average salaries are more than three times the industrial wage.