The Irish Bank Officials Association agreed yesterday not to ramp up its threat of industrial action at Irish Bank Resolution Corporation to allow the special liquidators additional time to consider the union's demands for extended contracts and improved redundancy terms.
The IBOA is seeking contract extensions for its 500 members at IBRC beyond the three months offered to them in February in the wake of the Government’s shock decision to liquidate the bank.
The union is also seeking suitable redundancy terms for the staff, who had expected to be working on the wind-down of IBRC for a number of years. As it stands they are entitled only to statutory redundancy terms.
At a meeting last night between executives of the IBOA and IBRC's special liquidators, Kieran Wallace and Eamonn Richardson of KPMG, a 48-hour standstill was agreed to allow for consideration of these issues. It is not clear what solace the special liquidators might ultimately be able to offer staff at IBRC, as they are bound by the legislation surrounding the bank's liquidation.
Any decision to extend contracts or offer improved redundancy terms is likely to require a level of Government sign off.
IBOA chief executive Larry Broderick described yesterday's talks as a "robust" exchange of views.
“We are hopeful about the possibility of extending the contracts and we will be in further dialogue on redundancy terms,” Mr Broderick said.
Under the Government's plan, the IBRC liquidators will have the bank's loans valued before selling the assets into the market. If the offers received do not at least match the valuations, the loans can then be transferred to the National Asset Management Agency, which would seek to run them down at maximum value to the exchequer.
A time frame of six months has been placed on this process with any transfers to Nama to begin in late August.
The IBOA is also pushing for some jobs to be saved, which might involve some employees transferring to Nama.
In a speech delivered on February 21st, Nama chairman Frank Daly said the agency faced a major challenge in absorbing IBRC's loan book.
“This new portfolio will significantly increase Nama’s workload. Potentially, depending on the scale of loan transfers, the size of our balance sheet could increase by close to 50 per cent,” he said.
Mr Broderick said the special liquidators had asked for 48 hours to consider a “structure of engagement” for the talks between the two sides.
Staff at IBRC last week voted overwhelmingly to support the IBOA’s campaign for fairness and respect. The workers have adopted a stance of non co-operation relating to certain tasks, thought to include participating in the valuation process of the bank’s loans.
Commenting on the discussions yesterday, the special liquidator Kieran Wallace said: “We are in dialogue with the IBOA and we look forward to more intense discussions over the weeks ahead.”