Finance union seeks KBC Ireland mediation over exit concerns

Belgian-owned lender has never recognised Irish unions

The Financial Services Union (FSU) has decided to seek mediation with KBC Bank Ireland through the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) over a number of concerns relating to the lender's planned exit from the Irish market.

The union said that it is relying on KBC Ireland to “put [its] employees first” by entering conciliation, even though the Belgian-owned lender has never recognised Irish unions. It refused an invitation as recently as last year from the WRC to discuss the bank’s plans at the time to close some of its branches.


A number of KBC Ireland’s 1,300-strong workforce are members of the FSU. However, the bank has refused to engage with the union on issues such as redundancy terms, work transfer rights, and pension schemes after the bank revealed in April that it planned to retreat from the Republic.

KBC Ireland is in talks to sell its €9 billion of performing loans to Bank of Ireland and recently sold most of its non-performing mortgages to US private equity firm CarVal.


"KBC's continuing refusal to discuss, through normal industrial channels, matters that effect their employers is shocking and a deplorable way to treat their staff," said Gareth Murphy, head of industrial relations and campaigns at FSU.

“Our members expect that their employer will deal with their representatives in a professional manner similar to what happens in other retail banks.”

FSU highlighted that the wider Brussels-based KBC Group, which recognises unions in its home market, is a signatory to the UN Global Compact which has at its core the right of an employee to be represented by a union.

A spokeswoman for KBC Ireland said: “KBC have robust procedures in place for engaging with employees through its internal employee council and deals directly with employees on all matters affecting their employment. We respect our employees’ rights to join a trade union. Our policy has always been to deal with our employees on a direct basis.”

Joe Brennan

Joe Brennan

Joe Brennan is Markets Correspondent of The Irish Times