Belfast Telegraph

EBS staff picket sites in pay row

Around 300 staff members from EBS have picketed branches of the building society in protest over a pay dispute.

The workers took strike action after the Department of Finance refused to sanction the long-standing 13th-month payment to lower and middle-grade staff, which was still paid in full to management.

The Department of Finance has to approve any bonuses paid to staff of state-controlled banks. But Colm Quinlan, regional officer of their trade union Unite, said the payment was not a bonus.

"The company claims the payment has been stopped by a combination of AIB and the Department of Finance," said Mr Quinlan.

"They say this is a bonus but that is simply not the case. Similar payments in other state-funded banks have been paid and the payment was made to management grades within the EBS. We are sick at the continuing evidence that there is one law for the well-off in Ireland, and another for what are seen to be easier targets."

Workers have been receiving the 13th-month payment for the last 45 years and it is part of their contract. The Irish Congress of Trade Unions has called on Minister for Finance Michael Noonan to intervene in the dispute to bring it to a fair resolution.

Congress general secretary David Beggs said it was not the workers' fault that the building society had to be bailed out in 2010.

"It must be remembered that it was not the general staff in the EBS - or in any of our financial institutions - that drove the organisation on to the rocks and left it dependent on taxpayer support," said Mr Beggs. "Yet staff have paid a heavy price for the reckless lending policies of senior management, in particular the loss of employment security and huge uncertainty around issues such as pensions."

The staff are protesting at EBS branches on the Square in Tallaght, William Street in Limerick and the company's Dublin headquarters on Burlington Road.

Mr Quinlan warned that staff will hold a meeting on January 11 and the protest could escalate if management does not resolve the issue.

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