September 11th: A general meeting of Unite members in the EBS was held this evening to consider further action following the breakdown earlier this week of talks at the Labour Relations Commission.
The meeting was briefed by Unite official Colm Quinlan on the talks, and on communications received from senior management and the LRC today.
Following the briefing, the meeting passed the following motion by an overwhelming majority:
This meeting instructs the Unite trade union to serve notice of a one-day strike, as a first step in escalated industrial action, on a date to be specified, but to take place no later than 30 September. Taking note of the communication received from management this evening, and the invitation received from the Labour Relations Commission today, our Representative Committee and Unite Trade Union should engage in talks up until 16 September only. In the event that all outstanding issues are not satisfactorily resolved, formal notice of the action specified above must be served on 17 September.
EBS employees have suffered a retrospective pay cut of approximately 8 per cent. This relates to the payment of the so-called 13th month, a contractual element of annual pay which was discontinued in 2011. In its recommendation, the Labour Court held that this payment comprised a bonus and as such was prohibited following the incorporation of EBS into AIB for the duration of the placing agreement. However, the Court also held that this prohibition did not apply to the 2011 payment, and recommended that the company pay the two weeks still owed for that year. This the EBS/AIB management has failed to do.
Speaking after the meeting, Colm Quinlan pointed out that the workforce had displayed what he termed “extraordinary patience” throughout the protracted process which culminated in Monday’s breakdown of talks, and he said members were “astounded that an institution now owned by the state should blatantly disregard a recommendation made by the same state’s supreme body for resolving disputes”.
“The top bankers who helped precipitate Ireland’s economic crisis were known for their cherrypicking attitude to regulation. Today, their institutions have been taken over by the State but it seems they retain the same cherrypicking approach to Labour Court recommendations – and once again it is working people, in this case EBS employees, who are being asked to pick up the tab”, Mr Quinlan said.