Labour Court urges KBC to engage with union to address branch closure issues

Belgian-owned bank says instead it will ‘directly engage’ with employees in dispute

KBC, which does not engage with outside unions, said on Friday that it will instead “directly engage” with employees.

KBC, which does not engage with outside unions, said on Friday that it will instead “directly engage” with employees.

 

The Labour Court has called on Belgian-owned bank KBC Bank Ireland to “engage constructively” with the Financial Service Union (FSU) in order to solve a dispute related to the planned closure of four of its 16 branches in a move that will result in almost 20 job losses.

The bank, which does not engage with outside unions, said on Friday it will instead “directly engage” with employees, and that it has a range of “internal mechanisms” in place for doing so. It also said it has sought to minimise the impact of the closure to employees, “ redeploying staff to expanded locations and creating new roles where possible”.

Dispute

The dispute relates to the proposed closure of four branches and resulting job losses. In September, KBC said it was closing what it referred to as hubs in Dundrum in Dublin, Greystones in Co Wicklow and Naas in Co Kildare, with customers who use these locations to be served in future by branches in Stillorgan in Dublin and Maynooth, Co Kildare.

The bank’s hub on the main street in Swords, Co Dublin, is to move to the local Pavilions Shopping Centre, while its hub in Kilkenny is also to close.

The bank said the changes were made “to reflect the changing needs of customers.”

However, the FSU maintains KBC is not doing enough to avoid redundancies or encourage redeployment options. The bank had previously refused to attend the Workplace Relations Commission, while it also refused an invitation to attend the Labour Court to address the dispute.

Issue

In addition to recommending KBC engage with the FSUon the issue, the Labour Court said the bank should also consider all possible means to reduce the possibility of compulsory redundancies, including examining what role remote working might play, the potential for employee led swaps and an adjustment of the terns of the voluntary redundancy package.

Gareth Murphy, head of campaigns and industrial relations at the FSU described the Labour Court recommendation as “a complete vindication of the rights of the workers in KBC”.