AIB staff look for bonuses to be part of pay
MORE than 700 AIB staff are looking to have their old 'bonuses' reclassified under a different name so the bailed-out bank can start making the payments again.
However, a spokesman for the Department of Finance said it had no intention of changing its ban on all bonuses.
The action by workers in AIB's direct banking unit comes after the Labour Court recommended the bank engage in "further discussions" to find a solution to the 705 employees' "peculiar circumstances".
The contracts for these 24-hour call centre staff, who are on very modest wages, provide for bonuses, typically in the range of €1,000, to be paid in June and December every year.
But the Government has explicitly banned bonuses in AIB and all bailed-out banks.
In a recommendation handed down last week, the Labour Court stopped short of calling on the bank to make payments owed for previous periods, despite claims from the Irish Bank Officials' Association (IBOA) that the payments should be made because they were not bonuses in the true sense.
But the court did give workers a glimmer of hope for future payments by calling on unions and the bank to "seek a practical solution to the issues in dispute within the constraints of relevant legislation".
IBOA boss Larry Broderick last night said his union would "look to put in place a framework that acknowledges the contractual rights of staff, which aren't bonuses".
The union is expected to push for the bonuses to be called something else, so they won't fall under the Government's rules.
A spokesman for the bank declined to comment last night.
AIB had promised to "review" the payments last November, and had even agreed to pay bonuses that were owed for the second half of 2009.
But that promise was almost immediately superseded by an instruction from the Department of Finance banning all bonus payments, after a court decision cleared the way for sizable bonus payments to staff in AIB's Capital Markets division.
The 'no bonuses' rule was then copperfastened in the legal documents around this summer's bank bailouts.