Union calls for bank board reform

BANK officials have called for more fundamental changes to be made to the financial services sector, including a major reconstitution of the boards of all banks, to restore integrity to the country’s banking reputation.

IBOA — the Finance Union (formerly known as the Irish Bank Officials’ Association) yesterday recommended a review of performance-related pay for the top executives of all the country’s main financial institutions as well as the establishment of a Commission on Banking as part of a series of initiatives to rebuild confidence in the banking system.

IBOA general secretary Larry Broderick also warned the Government against any move towards nationalisation of the country’s two main banks — AIB and Bank of Ireland — insisting they should be retained as independent bodies.

Addressing the biennial delegate conference of the IBOA in Balbriggan, Co Dublin, Mr Broderick called on the banks to do more to support customers, especially mortgage holders threatened with job losses.

Mr Broderick said the union, which represents almost 22,000 bank officials, also needed reassurance that the existing pay, jobs and work practices of its members would be protected.

Delegates voiced concern that some financial institutions have recently been attempting to withhold pay increases and reduce the value of pensions.

In a wide-ranging speech, Mr Broderick demanded that IBOA be involved in all discussions about the establishment of the so-called “bad bank”, the National Asset Management Agency. “IBOA will not be co-operating with any aspect of NAMA until our members’ needs are addressed,” he warned.

Mr Broderick said the union was particularly seeking reassurance about the impact of the proposed transfer of assets to NAMA on First Trust Bank and Bank of Ireland in Northern Ireland.

Delegates were also highly critical of Ulster Bank’s parent company, Royal Bank of Scotland, which has recently sought 200 redundancies from its Northern Ireland-based staff.

Mr Broderick said it was offensive that the bank should be seeking such job losses at a time when it is paying its controversial former chief executive, Fred Goodwin, an annual pension of over €800,000, despite bringing the RBS group “to its knees”.

The union also called for greater protection for staff to be provided by the banks and the police authorities against the rising threat of ‘tiger’ kidnappings.

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