Nationwide staff threaten to strike over rises and bonuses
STAFF at Irish Nationwide Building Society have threatened to disrupt the Government's merger of the failed lender with Anglo Irish Bank after they were refused pay rises and bonuses.
They warned they may take industrial action that could frustrate the Government's plan to merge the financial institution with Anglo Irish Bank and shut down the failed banks over time.
This is a key part of the overall scheme to restructure the banking sector agreed under the EU/IMF bailout.
The Irish Independent has learnt that they made pay claims despite taxpayers being hit with a €5.4bn bill to bail out the lender.
Last night around 110 members of the Irish Bank Officials Association (IBOA) learnt that the Labour Court has recommended not paying the staff bonuses and other wage increases.
They sought bonuses worth two weeks' pay over the last two years as well as a 3.5pc pay hike and other "outstanding pay", which is believed to relate to a performance-related wage increase.
But the court dismissed the claim because of the massive losses that forced taxpayers to rescue the bank along with government support.
The union said it was very disappointed with the Labour Court recommendation.
It spoke of its anger as the news broke on the same day it emerged that INBS presented an €11,500 watch to former boss Michael Fingleton when he retired in 2009. The union said low-paid workers were being hit with job losses and lost bonuses while senior figures including Mr Fingleton got away unscathed.
General secretary of the IBOA Larry Broderick said its members were considering industrial action.
"It is more than a little ironic that we should receive news of the Labour Court's finding on the same day the behaviour of the former chief executive has once again made headline news in the media," he said.
"So under these circumstances, it would not be surprising if our members decided to withhold co-operation with the restructuring of the INBS business with Anglo as part of the new IBRC institution."
The union denied the wage hikes sought by his members were excessive.
"They are not fat cats. This is not a lavish bankers' bonus. It was a modest award for staff on very modest salaries," he said.
"The difference between ordinary staff and Mr Fingleton could not be more stark," he added.
A spokeswoman for Irish Nationwide said the lender rejected the claim because it believed it was not appropriate to pay bonuses in the circumstances of the banking bailout.
The IBOA claimed staff had received bonuses near Christmas for 30 years until the bank was nationalised, and that the bonuses were looked on as part of overall pay.
The staff involved are among a group of 217 employees who transferred to Anglo Irish Bank when INBS and Anglo were merged by Finance Minister Michael Noonan on July 1, this year to create the new Irish Bank Resolution Corporation (IBRC).
The remaining 237 INBS employees transferred to Permanent TSB when most of the deposit accounts managed by INBS transferred to Permanent TSB earlier this year.