Cabinet to seek aid for financial workers

THE Government is planning to seek EU funding to help retrain workers who lost jobs in the financial services sectors.

Following last month’s announcement by Aviva that it will make 950 of almost 2,000 employees in Ireland redundant from next March, the Department of Education is monitoring the situation to see if those workers could be the subject of an application to the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF).

However, the two-year time scale of redundancies from next March could leave those workers outside the remit of the scheme.

However, the Irish Examiner has learned that the department, in discussion with the Department of Finance, is considering a wider application for support for people who have lost jobs in the banking and financial services sector.

The EGF is more commonly applied to situations where large numbers of redundancies in one company. The last government secured €38 million to help former employees of Waterford Crystal, Dell in Limerick and SR Technics in Dublin reskill and secure work elsewhere.

The European Commission recently approved a €35m payment from the fund to assist redundant construction workers and funding is also to be sought for the 575 workers made redundant by TalkTalk in Waterford last month.

However, Education Minister Ruairi Quinn raised concerns last week that millions in funds may have to be returned due to administrative errors on the part of the last government.

The planned application for the financial services sector has been under consideration for at least six months, and has now been widened beyond the banking industry to include the insurance sector.

“In conjunction with Department of Finance colleagues, the department is monitoring collective redundancies in the banking, financial services and insurance sectors with a view to making an application or applications for EGF co-financing assistance where all relevant criteria of the EGF regulations are met,” a department spokesperson said.

“In the event of making any such applications on a sustainable basis, the department will endeavour to maximise the numbers of redundant workers who can be assisted in particular sectors,” she said.

The Irish Bank Officials Association is negotiating terms of another 450 redundancies at Bank of Ireland and AIB announced plans to shed 2,000 jobs in April.

However, Central Statistics Office data obtained by the Irish Examiner show that numbers employed in the financial services and insurance sectors remain at around 2008 levels and are higher than four years ago.

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