Bank union wants profit-sharing for staff, not just executives

Financial Services Union wants at least one bank branch to be kept open in each town

FSU general secretary Larry Broderick: “It could take up to 35 years to move from the bottom of a junior level scale to the top of that scale”

The Financial Services Union (FSU) has called for banks in Ireland to include staff in any profit-sharing schemes, not just senior executives.

In an statement to the Oireachtas finance committee, which is considering a broad range of banking issues, the FSU said a "comprehensive pay strategy that acknowledges the growing profitability of the banks, the changing nature of work, the potential increase in cost of living, and the difficulty in retaining staff in a more competitive environment" needed to be designed.

The FSU said that pay should be determined by inflation and members’ living standards and that there was a “need” for profits to be shared with employees, not just senior executives.

There was also a need for reasonable time spans for individuals to progress from the bottom of pay scales to the maximum point.


"While there have been recent positive reforms in some financial institutions, it could take up to 35 years to move from the bottom of a junior level scale to the top of that scale," said FSU general secretary Larry Broderick.

‘Corrosive’ practice

The FSU said paid incentives for certain employees, either to remain with an existing employer or move to a competitor, had begun to re-emerge. “These awards are often delivered through confidentiality agreements outside the agreed pay structure within institutions,” it said, describing the practice as “corrosive”.

On the likely stock market flotation of 25 per cent of AIB this year, Mr Broderick said the FSU was concerned that future owners would "attempt once again to focus on staff pay, terms and conditions of employment and pensions as ways of reducing cost and maximising profit".

It wants a guarantee in advance of a sale process that gives “certainty and protection” to staff in AIB.

The FSU also called on financial institutions to commit that between them at least one bank branch would remain open in each town or locality, noting that some 160 branches had closed since 2008.

Independent expert

The union also called on the Department of Finance to put in place a six-month stay on any proposed closures to examine the business case behind the move and possibly put in place “alternative mechanisms” to meet the needs of customers and staff.

“An independent expert should be appointed by the department with banking expertise to assess the impact of any branch closure on the main stakeholders,” Mr Broderick said. He added that the report produced by this person should be published by the department with a requirement on the bank to provide a formal response before a closure could proceed.

All of the costs of this initiative should be borne by the bank, he said.

The union made similar calls last week to political parties and independents contesting the forthcoming Northern Ireland Assembly elections.

The union has also called for a forum to be set up by the Government to formulate a strategic plan for the financial sector.

Ciarán Hancock

Ciarán Hancock

Ciarán Hancock is Business Editor of The Irish Times