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Up to 10,000 bank workers could be let go over crisis in finance sector

AS many as 10,000 bank workers should be fearful for their jobs, it was claimed today.

A major finance union has warned that bank officials could be let go, by the thousand, from some of the country's main banks.

The stern assessment comes in the wake of the pullout by Bank of Scotland Ireland (BoSI), which is closing all of its Halifax branches with the loss of 750 jobs.

The Irish Bank Officials' Association said that it is being realistic in its downbeat assessment of the industry.

The union has now urged the Minister for Enterprise, Mary Coughlan to convene an emergency summit on the jobs crisis in finance. Its general secretary, Larry Broderick said: "Last year, I warned that up to 10,000 jobs could be at risk in the Irish financial services sector as a result of the current crisis.

"I have seen no evidence in the meantime to suggest that this estimate is unrealistic."

According to the IBOA, in excess of 4,000 banking jobs have already been lost because some institutions have stopped renewing contracts and replacing staff who leave.

In a grim assessment of the past year, it was noted that Ulster Bank shed 1,000 jobs, while National Irish Bank announced 150 job losses before Christmas.

"The national interest demands that the Government should engage on this issue not only to safeguard the economy -- but also to minimise the social impact of such a haemorrhage of jobs," said Mr Broderick.

The comments from the IBOA came as it emerged that the Government knew BoSI was going to shut a massive part of its Irish operation.

Tanaiste Mary Coughlan confirmed yesterday that official from the Department of Finance had held discussions with the bank to explore alternatives to the mass redundancies.