Covid-19 cannot be used as cover for Bank of Ireland branch closures
- Bank of Ireland must honour written agreements with union on their branch network
- Central Bank should send strong signal to banks who are considering branch closures
- Minister for Finance must leverage power of State shareholding to prevent closures
Labour Finance spokesperson Ged Nash has said Bank of Ireland cannot be allowed to use the pandemic to ram through branch closures. He has urged the bank to honour the agreement it has with the Financial Services Union on its branch network amid growing speculation that the bank plans to close multiple branches.
Deputy Nash said:
“Speculation regarding mass closures of Bank of Ireland branches will come as a hammer blow to staff, loyal customers and the local communities who rely on these services.
“Bank of Ireland should not be using the crisis as cover to restructure their operations and push through closures during a pandemic where hundreds of thousands are already out of work.
“News reports today will come as a bolt from the blue for staff and creates yet more uncertainty at an already anxious time. It shows yet again that senior management at the bank are out of touch with concerns of their staff and customers.
“It would have been hoped that the BOI senior management would have learnt their lesson from the backlash they received after using the earlier days of the pandemic as cover to propose to shutter over one hundred branches, mainly in rural areas. That first time was a foolish tragedy, but to attempt the same stunt a second time is nothing short of a farce.
“It is also extremely disappointing and somewhat disingenuous that the Bank has not raised this issue with the Financial Services Union (FSU) despite recent talks on reopening branches that remained partially closed since the last shutdown. Senior management at BOI must now urgently engage with the FSU at the earliest opportunity to restore trust, review their plans and prevent any damaging industrial relations issues from emerging.
“The Minister for Finance and Central Bank cannot stand idly-by with so many jobs on the line. They must leverage all means at their disposal – including the State’s significant shareholding in the BOI – to stop the destruction of the country’s banking network, particularly in the context of the imminent decisions regarding the future of Ulster Bank.
“Not only do they have a responsibility to the staff who would be potentially affected in both banks, but also the countless number of customers who rely on these services, particularly those in rural communities and older people who may be left with no banking alternative”.