The Brinks Allied cash transit crews, subjected to violent attacks on a weekly basis, are furious with a controversial proposal where drivers will leave colleagues stranded when confronted by armed criminals.
SIPTU and Brinks Allied are both confident of a Labour Court hearing, possibly tomorrow, to find a resolution to the dispute.
Proposals put forward to staff yesterday after a five-hour Labour Relations Commission hearing on Tuesday failed to satisfy workers' demands on health and safety.
SIPTU security services' branch secretary Kevin McMahon said a proposal for drivers to abandon colleagues at an armed robbery scene was completely unacceptable. "Most of our people employed in Brinks have experienced armed assaults, had shotguns put to their temple, sustained injuries from blows from the butt of a gun and had guns discharged over their heads." With an average of one armed robbery every week, Mr McMahon said Brinks should have consulted fully with the union before implementing changes. The decision of members not to operate the new vehicles and procedures was due primarily to concerns over health and safety, he said.
The LRC recommendations were rejected 2-1 by Brinks staff which transports cash to service ATMs along the eastern seaboard. An estimated 300 ATMs at banks and in standalone locations will run out of cash by Saturday. Brinks yesterday declined to comment further on the dispute.
However, Mr McMahon warned that as a result of increased armed attacks on cash transit vehicles and ATMs, the viability of companies such as Brinks was being put in jeopardy. He said Brinks was among a small number of companies which the union would describe as "a good quality employer". Staff at Brinks start on a pay basic of just under €800 weekly.
Mr McMahon said: "All cash transit companies are experiencing serious trading difficulties because of the extent of the losses from armed raids." Garda crime figures show a 15% rise in armed attacks at ATM machines and security vans over the past year.
Irish banks pay €5.9 million towards the gardaí and the army in providing security escorts for cash transports, less than half the cost of the service.
Despite the financial institutions making billion-euro profits, the banks are still refusing to meet the full costs of transporting cash to branches around the country. The cost to the taxpayer of security escorts could reach €13m this year.
The banks' contribution rose by €2m last year following negotiations between the Department of Justice and the Irish Bankers' Federation, representing the retail banks.
Justice Minister Michael McDowell wants the banks to pay more, but the IBF says it is not involved in any negotiations on the matter at present.
The banks argue that €1.3 billion in taxes is generated by the banking sector and banks also pay €300 million annually as a special levy imposed on the industry last year.