Culture of fear right across banking industry, says union

IBOA says pressure to meet targets creates bad experience for employees and customers

The IBOA’s general secretary Larry Broderick told the inquiry that bank employees feel they have been “vilified” by the actions of senior bank management. Photograph: Frank Miller/The Irish Times

The IBOA’s general secretary Larry Broderick told the inquiry that bank employees feel they have been “vilified” by the actions of senior bank management. Photograph: Frank Miller/The Irish Times

Wed, Jan 22, 2014, 21:07

There is a culture of fear in the banking sector not just in Ireland but right across the industry, the Irish Bank Officials’ Association has warned.

The IBOA said the pressures that bank staff are put under to meet targets on a daily basis has created not just a difficult working environment but results in a bad experience for both employees and customers alike.

The finance union, which has 4,500 members in the North, gave evidence about the local banking sector to an influential group of Northern and British MPs at the House of Commons in London today.

The Northern Ireland Affairs Committee is holding an inquiry into the banking structure in Northern Ireland and is taking evidence from all of the key players with influence in the industry.

The IBOA’s general secretary Larry Broderick told the inquiry that bank employees feel they have been “vilified” by the actions of senior bank management.

He said the last five years had been particularly difficult for bank staff who had been at the forefront of the banking crisis and who empathised with their customers and the difficulties many of them had experienced.

The IBOA believes that the banking industry in the North suffers from a “lack of transparency” - one example he highlighted was local banks’ assertions that they were willing to lend money.

But the IBOA said its intelligence suggested that while money might be available in certain circumstances banks had “significantly tightened” the lending criteria under which customers can access finance.

Mr Broderick said the union is particularly concerned that all of the major banks in the North - Ulster, Danske, Bank of Ireland and First Trust - are owned and controlled outside of the North.

He said the union is also concerned that decisions are made that do not take into account the “additional dimensions” of the local economy such as the high proportion of family-owned businesses and small enterprises that employ less than 15 people.

“There is no control in Northern Ireland,” he said.

Mr Broderick said there is heightened concern among Ulster Bank employees at this time about a review currently under way at its parent company, RBS.

He said out of all the banks in the North employee morale is worse in Ulster Bank.

Mr Broderick said Ulster Bank employees have no idea what is going to happen and the union fears that Northern Ireland could suffer further job losses and bank closures.