Union worried by Bank of Ireland changes

BANK of Ireland's new focus on selling-off non-core businesses and developing a sustainable lower cost base is not a prelude to relocating work to low-cost countries like India, the bank said last night.

The sell-off, in the past two weeks, of the company's share in EuroConex and the motor insurance segment of Premier Direct Insurance has raised flags at the bank workers' union.

Irish Bank Officials Association (IBOA) chief executive Larry Broderick has sought an urgent meeting with BoI chief executive Michael Soden to discuss what the union perceives as a significant and worrying change in policy.

"We want to meet with Michael Soden before the bank's AGM next month," said Mr Broderick.

Following the announcement of major changes at senior management level and the re-organisation of job portfolios at BoI yesterday, a bank spokesman said it has no plans to follow the example of large US and British financial institutions and relocate back-office work to India or similar low-cost locations.

Mr Broderick said the IBOA is very concerned at the language used in the job description of John Collins, chief executive, retail businesses, who has been appointed group chief development officer.

The bank said in a statement: "John will be responsible for the stewardship and governance of subsidiary boards and affiliates, the co-ordination of all merger, acquisition and diversiture activity as well as the formulation of group strategy."

The IBOA is concerned at the focus on the words "diversiture activity". A bank spokesman, who confirmed this is intended to mean business sell-offs, said this work also formed part of the job description of Mr Collins's predecessor Jeff Warren, who has announced his intention to retire from the group on June 30, 2004.

Mr Collins's successor, Des Crowley, takes on an expanded portfolio as chief executive, retail financial services.

"This role brings together the current operations of retail businesses and retail financial services. He will be responsible for generating further growth in an increasingly competitive market," the bank said.

Group chief risk officer Ronan Murphy and the head of group human resources Michael Grealy will join the group executive committee.

Following the management change announcement, Mr Soden said: "The changes announced today will add to the positive momentum in achieving our strategic goals based on the twin aims of growth and efficiency.

"They also reflect the primacy of our people as a key differentiator and they recognise the growing complexity of the compliance and regulatory environment in which we operate."

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