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NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2012

Compliments of the Season


Ulster Bank make provision for cost of the computer glitch: Ulster Bank has put aside E103 million for costs associated with the “technology incident” in the summer (See Page 5).

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Mis-selling costs rise in Britain: As the review of the selling of Payment Protection Insurance – ordered by the Central Bank – continues in the Irish Republic, British banks set aside more funds (See Page 6).

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WORK AGENDA

End the insanity of austerity Robin Hood tax gains traction A different kind of bank in Japan: Rokin TUC gets first female General Secretary Coping with redundancy See Pages 8-15

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Profile of Eileen Gorman, IBOA Danske Bank Officer Zoo Time IBOA’s oldest member? Ghosts and writer Equality sctions IBOA’s charitable gifts See Pages 34-45

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LIFE & STYLE

Fixing broken banking As Time Goes By reminiscences of life in AIB Branches now closing The King Memorandum Lower workplace safety standards ahead in UK See Pages 16-25

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One rule for the rich IBOA election season Back to Croker for BDC Securing wider support Getting the message across Getting organised Getting to grips with IT See Pages 26-33

Putting customers first? Recent developments in AIB, Bank of Ireland and Ulster Call centre staff review experiences Danske rebrands Northern and National Irish See Pages 46-55

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Beware of the clot Deadly denim Stop the net grab Teatime tie-breakers: Prize Crossword, Picture Board and Sudoku See Pages 56-63

ARTS & LEISURE

Spectrum is published by IBOA – The Finance Union, IBOA House, Stephen Street Upper, Dublin 8 and 29, Malone Road, Belfast. BT9 6RU. Telephone: 00353-1-4755908 and 0044-28-90200130 info@iboa.ie www.iboa.ie www.iboa.org.uk General Secretary: Larry Broderick Honorary Secretary: Tommy Kennedy Communications Manager: Séamas Sheils

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Advertising enquiries to Anna O’Doherty or Louise O’Donnell in IBOA House. Spectrum is printed on recycled paper and wrapped for posting in oxydegradable poly­thene at W. & G. Baird, Antrim, Northern Ireland. november 2012

As well as plans covering health insurance, we also have travel and dental insurance...as well as minor injury SwiftCare Clinics in Cork and Dublin. Give us a call at 1850 211 558 quoting reference no. 5429/25 and your IBOA membership number to discuss your options...we can help you with your choice with no fuss...just facts! Delays likely in EU bank reform: The EU Commission’s bid to reform banking regulation in the eurozone may be delayed by a legislative bottleneck (See Page 7).

Ringfence banks’ investment arms – EU: The EU Commission’s expert group on banking reform – chaired by Erkki Liikanen wants to ring-fence speculative investment activity within the banking system (See Page 7).

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Anglo - inspiring art Films: Seven Psychopaths, The Hobbit, Dollhouse Sporting year in review: From the sublime to the ridiculous – George Hamilton Ultraviolet See Pages 64-71

Vhi Healthcare – when you need us, we’re there

november 2012

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Anglo 3 face trial: Former Anglo Irish Bank chief, Seán FitzPatrick, and two of his former senior executives are to face trial on charges of alleged “financial irregularities.” (See Page 4)

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Vhi Healthcare is the only specialist health insurer in Ireland with over 50 years’ experience. We have plans for every pocket and every lifestage.

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IBOA NEWS

Fixing Europe’s banks will take five more years …at least! Around three-quarters of European banks believe it will take at least another five years to repair their balance sheets in the wake of the global financial crisis. The slow rate of progress is generally attributed to the recession and the eurozone crisis, according to a recent report by Deloitte’s.

US sues Bank of America for $1 bn Bank of America is facing a $1 billion lawsuit from the US authorities on charges of selling thousands of toxic loans to the government-sponsored mortgage companies, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. The action against Bank of America follows similar lawsuits against JP Morgan and Credit Suisse.

Japanese bank fined for insider deals

Anglo 3 for trial F

ormer Anglo Irish Bank chief, Seán FitzPatrick, and two of his former senior executives are to face trial on charges of alleged “financial irregularities.”

Together with the Bank’s former finance director, Willie McAteer and its former managing director for Ireland, Patrick Whelan, Anglo’s former chairman and chief executive is accused of unlawfully providing financial assistance to clients – including the ‘Maple 10’ and members of the Quinn family – for the purpose of buying shares in the former Bank in July 2008 to unlawfully prop up its share price. The three face a total of 16 charges which have been brought after a three-anda-half year inquiry by the Garda Bureau of Fraud Investigation attached to the Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement (ODCE) into the circumstances leading to the collapse of the Bank at a

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Arriving for their preliminary trial hearing last month were: Seán Fitzpatrick (top), Patrick Whelan (bottom left) and Willie McAteer (bottom right) (All pictures: Photocall-Ireland).

cost of around E30 billion to the State. “Without pre-empting the outcome of the judicial process,” said General Secretary, Larry Broderick, “IBOA welcomes the fact that steps are being taken to hold to account those who are alleged to be among the most culpable for the collapse of Irish banking. “As long as no-one was deemed to be responsible, then everyone working in the financial services sector was regarded as guilty in the eyes of the public,” he said. “The laying of charges against these individuals may at least put some clear water between those in leadership roles in Irish banking and ordinary employees,” added the IBOA leader.

november 2012

Investment bank, Nomura, has been fined ¥200 million (£1.5 million or E1.9 million) recently by the Japanese Stock Exchange over an insider dealing scandal which has already brought the resignation of the bank’s chief executive. Though such a penalty would now be regarded as little more than a slap on the wrist in Europe and the US in the wake of the Libor and other financial scandals, it is a record fine for the Japanese Stock Exchange.

IBOA EXTRA

Barclays to cut salaries of some staff Barclays is planning to cut the salaries of some of its leading investment bankers by almost half in an effort to reduce costs and demonstrate that the bank has changed in the wake of the financial crisis. Investment bankers on basic annual pay of between £500,000 to £3 million are expected to face cuts of up to 40%.

HSBC prepares for $1.5 bn. fine British-based bank, HSBC, has set aside a total of $1.5 billion so far in anticipation of the substantial penalties still to be levied by the US authorities after the Senate found recently that the bank had laundered billions of dollars into the US for drug barons and terrorists. Financial regulators in Jersey have now launched an inquiry into similar allegations.

LIFE & STYLE

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BoS fined £4.2m for IT glitch

RBS braced for fine over Libor scandal

In a move that may concern Ulster Bank parent, RBS, after its recent IT meltdown, the UK Financial Services Authority (FSA) has fined Bank of Scotland £4.2 million for holding inaccurate records for 250,000 Halifax mortgage customers for more than seven years from 2004-2011 – due to a fault in its IT system. When Halifax was forced to contact customers who had been misled over caps on their interest rates last year, 160,000 customers were almost left out of a compensation programme while at the same time £20.4 million was also paid to 22,700 customers who were not entitled to anything. Bank of Scotland and Halifax are now part of the Lloyds Banking Group.

Ulster Bank’s parent, Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS), is reported to be in the final stages of negotiations with regulators on its role in the rigging of the London inter-bank overnight rate (Libor). Chief Executive, Stephen Hester, said recently that he would be disappointed if a settlement had not been reached by February when its full-year results are due. Barclays was the first bank to be reach a settlement over its role in the Libor scandal. A number of other banks are believed to be under investigation.

Ulster Bank puts by E103m for glITch

RBS to float Direct Line Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) has begun the process designed to float its Direct Line insurance business. One of the actions sought by the EU in return for the £45 billion State bailout of RBS, the sell-off is likely to be one of the largest flotations this year. However, hundreds of jobs may be at risk as the company – which also owns Churchill, Privilege and Green Flag – seeks to boost profitability to make the business more attractive as a stand-alone company.

WORK AGENDA

U FSA chairman, Adair Turner

Lloyds to keep branches open UK Banking group, Lloyds – which is 42% State-owned – has pledged to maintain the current number of branches it operates in Britain for the next three years. It has also promised not to close any branch if it is the last branch left in a community. Lloyds has 2,902 branches throughout Britain – but is close to completing the sale of 632 to the Co-operative Bank to fulfil one of the major conditions laid down by the EU for receiving State aid.

lster Bank has put aside E103 million for costs associated with the “technology incident” in the summer.

According to the Bank, the sum will cover redress of E52 million to 750,000 customers across Ireland as well as other operational costs associated with the incident which arose from a major computer system failure at its parent, RBS. “As we continue to deal with customer claims and costs associated with the incident, said the Bank, “we expect that there will be some additional costs to the bank over the coming months.” On a related matter, PricewaterhouseCoopers has been commissioned by the Financial Services Authority (FSA) in the UK to investigate the IT failure at RBS – while law firm, Clifford Chance, is leading the Bank’s own internal inquiry.

Among the questions the FSA wants answered is why it took so much longer to resolve the difficulties experienced by Ulster Bank customers. The FSA wants RBS to provide “an assessment of the consequences and the subsequent management of the IT failure. “This will include understanding why it took longer to resolve the Ulster Bank position,” said the FSA’s chairman, Adair Turner. The FSA will then consider if any additional action is required when it receives the report. Meanwhile, the RBS IT failure has also led the FSA to remind Britain’s nine largest banks and building societies of their regulatory obligations. The FSA has also sought the names of the senior managers who are directly responsible for the integrity of the IT systems in each institution.

James Gorman

Bankers overpaid – says CEO on £6.5m a year Morgan Stanley CEO and President, James Gorman, declared recently that bankers’ pay should fall in line with bank profits and shareholder returns as there are too many bankers chasing too little business. Last year, he was paid $10.5 million (£6.5 million) – after taking a 25% pay cut. Arguing that the “world has changed,” he said that bankers must accept lower pay. “If you put your compensation in a one-year context to define your overall level of happiness, you have a problem which is much bigger than the job. If you’re really unhappy, just leave. I mean, life’s too short,” he said.

november 2012

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Kweku Adoboli, the Londonbased UBS trader, ccnvicted of losing £1.4bn through reckless and illicit deals, told the court that his superiors were not only aware of his actions but actively urged him to “push the boundaries” to maximise profits. He said that investment banks saw compliance policies as largely “aspirational.” Recalling an e-mail from his boss on the limits of acceptable behaviour, he said: “We were told you wouldn’t know where the limit was until you got a slap on the back of the wrist. We found the edge, we fell off and I got arrested.”

Erkki Liikanen, Governor of the Bank of Finland and former EU Commissioner

Delays likely in EU bank reform

Mis-selling costs in UK continue to rise L

The UK’s Financial Services Authority has been given a lifetime ban and a £500,000 fine to former Halifax-Bank of Scotland senior executive, Peter Cummings, for his role as head of the bank’s corporate division which lent billions of pounds to property developers. HBOS was rescued from near-collapse by the Lloyds Banking Group in September 2008 following a £20 billion State bail-out. Claiming he had been in effect scapegoated by the FSA, Cummings said the Authority had failed to take action against any of his former colleagues. Cummins has retired from HBOS with an annual pension worth £352,000.

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As the review of the selling of Payment Protection Insurance – ordered by the Central Bank – continues in the Irish Republic…

loyds Banking Group has been referred to the enforcement division of the Financial Services Authority (FSA) in the UK for “serious failings” in the way it paid commission to its sales staff. FSA managing director, Martin Wheatley, has put Britain’s banks on notice that they must end the commission culture which has led to such widespread mis-selling. “We intend to change the culture of viewing consumers as simply sales targets,” said Wheatley, “and I am going to be personally involved in getting it right.” Most of the financial misselling scandals in the last two decades have been caused by commission payments, he said. The FSA’s ban on commission payments to advisers comes into force on December 31.

november 2012

Record customer complaints about mis-sold Payment Protection Insurance (PPI) could force the total compensation bill for Britain’s banks beyond the estimated £13 billion already allocated – after recent announcements that Barclays has increased its compensation provision from £1.3 billion to £2 billion while Lloyds has added £1 billion to the £4.3bn it had already set aside. The UK’s Financial Services Ombudsman has also revealed that PPI accounted for 63% of new complaints in the first six months of this year. In the Republic, the Central Bank has ordered seven financial institutions to review their PPI selling practices. Around 340,00 policies are estimated to have been sold by Irish institutions between August 2007 and November 2011.

T Martyn Dodgson

Leading UK bank executive faces charges A leading bank executive – who has advised the British Government on its stakes in part-nationalised banks, Royal Bank of Scotland and Lloyds Banking Group – has been charged by the UK’s Financial Services Authority (FSA) for alleged involvement in insider dealing allegedly worth £3m. Martyn Dodgson, who is a former managing director in Deutsche Bank’s corporate broking team, is one of four men accused of conspiracy to insider deal between November 1 2006 and March 23 2010 – following a long-running joint investigation between the FSA and the UK’s Serious Organised Crime Agency.

he EU Commission’s bid to reform banking regulation in the eurozone may be delayed by a legislative bottleneck. EU Commission President, José Manuel Barroso, had prepared a raft of regulations and directives to “make sure that banks in the euro area stick to sound financial practices.” Last month’s EU summit agreed a series of measures aimed at creating a banking

union – including the appointment of a banking supervisor in 2013. However, many of the reforms necessary to complete the process are tied up in regulatory proposals being debated by committees in the European Parliament. Observers in Brussels say that there will not be enough time for all the proposals to be properly examined by the New Year – which is the deadline for many to be completed.

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he report of the EU Commission’s Highlevel Expert Group on Bank Structural Reform” – chaired by Erkki Liikanen – has recommended a set of measures to ringfence speculative investment activity within the banking system so that liabilities caused by speculation will not undermine real banking activities.

More than a dozen of the biggest banks in the EU face the prospect of having to ringfence their trading activities. Deutsche Bank, Barclays and

BNP Paribas are likely to be hit the hardest. While the building of these “firewalls” would be more costly for these banks in the short-term, it should mean lower costs for society in the long-term, by making the EU banks much safer and less likely to require special State aid in future. All eyes are now on Michel Barnier, the EU Commissioner responsible for financial services, who will have the final say on whether to push for new legislation to give effect to the report’s key recommendations.

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José Manuel Barroso

Need to ringfence banks’ speculative activity – Liikanen

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An ex-Credit Suisse trader, has been accused by US authorities of involvement in an alleged $3 billion fraud involving sub-prime mortgage bonds. The bank’s former global head of structured credit trading, Kareem Serageldin, is the most senior banker to be charged in a scandal dating back to 2007 in which mortgage-backed securities traders were allegedly caught trying to cover up $540 million in losses on their books.

Life ban for UK banking executive

ARTS & LEISURE

Push the limit

Credit Suisse trader on fraud charge

Peter Cummings

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november 2012

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SPECIAL FOCUS

Bullseye: Eleven EU member States have now endorsed the concept of the “Robin Hood” tax on financial transactions (See Page 11).

IBOA NEWS

WORK AGENDA

Surviving the Axe: How redundancies can affect those who remain in work as well as those who leave (See Page 15).

Knowledge is power. Francis Bacon

You simply sign up and select the movies you want to see and we post them to your home. As soon as you are finished you return in the FREEPOST envelope provided and we send the next title from your list. It is far cheaper than renting from the high street with all the latest new releases. There are no late fees and over 15,000 titles to choose from. A special 10% discount is available for IBOA members – for more information check out www.iboa.ie/my/services/ or www.iboa.org.uk/my/services/ november 2012

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End the insanity Austerity policy discredited by its own advocates – but governments carry on regardless

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Community groups participate in the recent demonstration in Dublin, organised in conjunction with the Dublin Council of Trade Unions, to protest against the austerity policies of the Irish Government (Photo: Laura Hutton, Photcall-Ireland).

O’Grady says: I’m the new General Secretary of the British Trades Union Congress (See Page 14).

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Rokin: The Japanese labour and community banking network that is giving banks a good name (See Page 11).

Screenclick is Ireland’s leading online DVD and Blu-ray rental service.

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IBOA EXTRA

espite the recent admission by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) that the austerity solution to dealing with national debt was far more damaging than it had previously believed, most politicians on these islands seem to have convinced themselves that there is no alternative austerity.

IMF economists who had previously calculated that austerity was a risk worth taking to bring debt levels under control have since acknowledged that the impact is far more severe – and may indeed worsen the debt situation. In other words, the treatment is worse than the disease. This frank admission by the IMF has been used as the pretext for some relaxation in the austerity timelines being imposed on Greece. But Governments in

Britain and Ireland seem to be determined to press ahead with further public spending cuts regardless of the consequences. While the Chancellor of the Exchequer is ideologically driven to hold this position, the Irish Government also seems to have abandoned pragmatism in favour of putting the interests of the markets ahead of the interests of its people. Many commentators – politicians included – have rightly criticised the “groupthink” in the financial sector which gave rise to commercial recklessness and economic catastrophe. This has been replaced by another form of groupthink which, despite mounting evidence of its failure, is still being pursued relentlessly – inflicting further pain and suffering on the majority. Governments try to salve their consciences by claiming that they are taking difficult decisions in the national

interest. But crude decisions to slash and burn are not particularly difficult. In fact they are simple – brutally simple. And the more you insulate yourself from the cares and concerns of the general public, the easier it gets. The really difficult decisions are those which seek to balance a complex range of factors to secure the maximum economic and social benefit from limited resources. Too often, we have witnessed ill-considered measures which are not only socially damaging but ultimately economically wasteful. Nevertheless, IBOA will continue to lobby decision-makers at every opportunity, to question the conventional wisdom and to challenge assumptions in the hope that common sense may ultimately prevail. The continuing support of members is vital to make those efforts as effective as possible. november 2012

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EU Commissioner, Algirdas Šemeta (above) and UNI General Secretary Philip Jennings (below).

Congress General Secretary, David Begg (left) and Economic Advisor, Paul Sweeney, at the launch of the ICTU Pre-Budget Submission (Photo: Photocall-Ireland).

Shifting to Growth and Jobs

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Key Elements in the Congress Growth Strategy

Undertake an investment stimulus of E3 billion a year for three years to create some 100,000 new jobs overall and boost GDP by 2% a year.

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Undertake a major reform of the income tax system by: introducing a new 48% tax rate for individual incomes over E100,000, along with a 1% Wealth Tax. (Profitable corporates should contribute more by restricting write-offs.) abolishing the Special Assignee Relief Programme (SARP) – which provides tax reliefs for “skilled individuals” from abroad to work in Ireland; tackling tax fugitives; and clamping down on evasion and avoidance.

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Introduce the Financial Transaction Tax – which 11 EU member States are already supporting. (This tax could raise E500 million annually for Ireland.)

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november 2012

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Persuade the EU to mutualise Ireland’s bank debts, which were run up by private institutions.

Deal effectively with the Irish pension crisis with policies that boost pension take-up and phase in the reform of State pensions (by raising the age for pension take-up) to allow workers time to adjust and prepare.

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Extend the period of budgetary adjustment – required by the Troika – to 2017 and reverse the planned ratio of spending cuts to tax rises.

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Reform the Labour Market Activation Fund so that it is focused on encouraging people into the workforce – rather than simply managing expenditure cuts.

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Broaden the apprenticeship system and introduce a Youth Guarantee to help link young people to skills training and the workplace.

Improve the policing of employment standards to staunch the haemorrhage of tax revenue being lost because of misguided public procurement practices. Implement effective policies to tackle inequality by addressing poverty traps and fuel poverty. (For example, the new eligibility criteria for the State pension impact most severely on women, while the level of cutbacks in disability funding to date – 14% over the past four years – has gone too far and must be reversed.)

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Reject the privatisation of major public enterprises and develop indigenous enterprise to become an engine of economic recovery.

Prioritise the reform of corporate governance in the private sector. (The focus on public sector reform has obscured the need for reform in the private sector, where, obsessive secrecy and perverse incentives have contributed to a culture where making a deal is more important than creating value.

1 A formal proposal

Bullseye

‘Robin Hood’ tax gains ground in EU

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leven EU member States are now supporting the Financial Transaction Tax (FTT), according to the EU’s Taxation Commissioner Algirdas Šemeta. This is two more than the minimum of nine that are needed to form an official EU agreement on the basis of enhanced co-operation. The four biggest Eurozone countries – France, Italy, Spain and Germany – are backing the tax along with Austria, Belgium, Estonia, Greece, Portugal, Slovakia and Slovenia in backing the tax. The finance division of the global union federation, UNI, has described this development as a major breakthrough.

“This is a significant step toward a Europe-wide FTT,” said UNI General Secretary. Philip Jennings, “and a giant leap forward to a more equitable system where super-rich companies making multi-million euro deals put a small percentage back into society. A FTT will help build a financial safety net.”

The Goivernments of the UK and Ireland have not supported the tax, but campaigners aim to keep up the pressure on them. “Britain’s refusal to back the tax has left them very much out in the cold as Europe moves to make banks pay their fair share,” said a UK campaign spokesperson.

on the rates for the new tax is made by the EU Commission – likely to be 0.1% on stocks and bonds; with 0.01% on trades in derivatives.

2 The proposal is put

to a formal vote in the European Parliament (which has already signalled its support for the tax in principle).

3 The proposal is put

to a vote by qualified majority in the EU’s Council of Finance Ministers.

Santander backs out of deal to buy RBS branches In a surprise development, Santander recently withdrew from a £1.65 billion deal originally with RBS in 2010 to buy 316 branches in England and Wales. Some commentators have attributed the collapse of the deal to unforeseen difficulties in

addressing differences in the IT systems of the two banking groups – a much easier charge to sustain in the wake of the catastrophic failure of the RBS technological platform in the

summer – which also affected both NatWest and Ulster Bank. Others have noted that the general sluggishness of the UK economy has led British banking to recover more slowly than originally expected. This may have led the Spanish bank to reconsider its original offer price.

The EU Commission had ordered RBS to dispose of the branches – along with £22 billion worth of deposits and 1.8 million customers – as the price for receiving £45 billion in State aid from the British Government. RBS must now seek a new buyer.

november 2012

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The ICTU General Secretary urged the Irish Government to introduce the financial transaction tax – which, according to some estimates, could raise E500 million a year in Ireland. The Congress pre-Budget submission also proposes prioritising tax increases over spending cuts and extending the period for Ireland’s adjustment programme to 2017.

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At the launch of the ICTU’s preBudget submission, Shifting to Growth and Jobs, its General Secretary, David

Begg, said the investment package could be funded from a number of sources including exempting pension funds from the pension levy if they invested in infrastructure bonds. Such a programme could boost GDP by 2% per year. Congress has also proposed a 1% wealth tax to be applied to assets over E2 million but not including houses worth less than E1 million.

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he Irish Congress of Trade Unions has called on the Republic’s Government to introduce a E9 billion investment stimulus package to create 100,000 new jobs over three years.

What’s next?

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Sweet deals from IBOA For the latest news on special offers and discounts for IBOA members, check out the Union websites: www.iboa.ie/my/services or www.iboa.co.uk/my/services

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he bankruptcies, rogue trading, massive bailouts and other banking scandals that fuelled the global crisis in recent years, sparked widespread criticism of financial institutions.

These controversies have underlined the need for socially responsible financial institutions focussed more on providing banking services to clients than profits to shareholders. In this context, the International Labour Organisation (ILO) has highlighted the role played by the Rokin, the National Association of Labour Banks in Japan – trade union-led finance co-operatives, whose stated aim is to promote the welfare of workers, while sticking to the principles of “sincerity, fairness and openness.” “With a fast growing need for financial institutions to take spectrum

Is it possible for banks to devote themselves to the financial welfare of workers and still survive financial crises? According to the International Labour Organisation, Japan’s Rokin Bank could provide a model.

november 2012

on more social responsibilities, Rokin Bank, with its 60 years’ experience, may serve as an inspiration for the institutionalisation of social finance for workers – ensuring their financial inclusion and welfare,” says Craig Churchill, head of the ILO’s Social Finance Programme.

Unique status

Similar to credit unions, Rokin banks have a unique status under the Japanese Labour Bank Law,

Craig Churchill of the ILO

which says that they should not engage in profit-making but should promote the welfare of their members. According to a 2011 ILO study, these goals have been key to Rokin’s survival, and enabled the banks to remain solvent in the late 1980s, when the collapse of the Japanese asset bubble bankrupted financial institutions that had invested heavily in real estate loans.

Banking with a conscience

More recently, when the global financial crisis unfolded in 2008, Rokin agreed to a government request to set up a programme to support workers struggling to repay their loans. They were given financial advice and, in some cases, a reduction in their repayment levels and an extension of the repayment period. Ú

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History

The history of the Rokin banks goes back to the post-World War II era, when workers struggled to make ends meet and often had to resort to loan sharks for credit. In 1950, two banks – the precursors of the Rokin – were set up to supply fair loans to workers and to support consumer co-operatives. Today, there are 13 Rokin banks with 642 branch offices and about 10 million members – most of them from trade unions, consumer co-operatives and mutual aid organisations. The total deposit balance of the Rokin banks is ¥17.5 trillion ($225 billion), which represents 2% of the total funds on deposit in Japan. S

Limerick Racecourse would like to offer €5 off per person on all packages for the Irish Independent Limerick Christmas Racing Festival which runs from Wednesday December 26 until Saturday December 29, 2012. Simply log onto www.limerickraces.ie, select the date you wish to attend the races and the package you wish to purchase and enter the code IBOA to claim your discount. For more information please call 061-320000 or email info@limerickraces.ie november 2012

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Giving banks a good name

Rokin banks have also offered low-interest loans to people who lost their homes after being laid-off as a result of the crisis. The government compensates the banks in case of default. The Rokin banks also have a loan programme to assist communitybased, non-profit and social welfare organisations. Rokin members also appreciate the low-interest, emergency funding these banks extend to workers and their families when disasters – such as earthquakes or typhoons – strike.

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Yoshito Ishibashi, President of the Rokin, the National Association of Labour Banks

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O’Grady says follow me

Deutsche Bank to cut jobs and bonuses Germany’s largest bank is to cut 2,000 jobs and staff bonuses, and sell assets to meet tougher capital rules. Deutsche Bank’s new Chief Executives, Anshu Jain and Jürgen Fitschen, have pledged to end the bank’s risk-taking culture and build up its core capital cushion. The Bank has warned shareholders that it will not pay dividends until its balance sheet is stronger. It will also remove E125 billion (£100 billion) worth of impaired assets into a separate unit.

British TUC appoints its first female General Secretary … and she has Irish trade union roots!

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november 2012

Germany’s second biggest lender, Commerzbank, may be about to cut up to 6,000 jobs, as part of a massive cost-cutting programme, according to German weekly, Die Zeit. The Frankfurt-based bank is 25% State-owned after taking an E18 billion bailout in 2009.

Surviving the axe How redundancies can demoralise staff who remain in work

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n epidemic of ‘survivor syndrome’ is affecting overworked and demoralised workers in workplaces shedding staff as job fear grips the working population, according to Canadian public sector union, PSAC.

Frances O’Grady • Aged 52, Frances O’Grady was born in Oxford, has two adult children and lives in North London. • She achieved a BA in politics and modern history from Manchester University and a diploma in industrial relations and trade union studies at Middlesex Polytechnic. • Her father was a shop steward at the Leyland car plant in Cowley, near Oxford. • Her grandfather was a founder member of the Irish Transport and General Workers’ Union.

“An insidious phenomenon then takes root in the organisation,” says National President, Robyn Benson. “Employees are overworked; work excessive amounts of overtime, are absent more often and end up unmotivated, morose and even depressed. “Those left behind are often forgotten and considered lucky and privileged to still have their jobs. But those people are really suffering from what is known as the ‘survivor syndrome.’ “Racked by fear of losing their jobs, the ‘survivors’ work harder to prove they are competent. However, the fatigue and stress that come over them sometimes lead them to make more errors, which reduce productivity. “Others become unmotivated and abandon all expectations of the organisation. Excessive stress can cause physical problems ranging

ING announces 2,350 job cuts

from occupational accidents, to back pain, to burn-out. “Psychological problems – anxiety, insomnia, drug abuse, psychological distress and depression – also surface,” she said. Robyn Benson’s observations have been broadly supported by the recently published findings from a research study at the University of Michigan in the US – which found that watching people lose their jobs all around you will make you sick, even if you hold onto your own job. While many observers might suspect that a climate of job losses would lead to a heightened sense of insecurity – even among those who remain in work, the Michigan team proved that it is the case with depression and anxiety being the most likely outcome. The researchers reported that “perceived job insecurity was significantly associated with probable depression and anxiety even when we compared insecure respondents with no recent unemployment experience with their secure counterparts with no recent unemployment.”

Dutch bank and insurance company, ING, has revealed plans to cut 2,350 jobs from its overall workforce of 94,000. The bank’s third-quarter profits fell from E1.69 billion twelve months ago to E609 million in 2012.

UBS to axe 10,000 jobs worldwide Swiss bank, UBS, intends to cut 10,000 jobs worldwide as it reduces its investment banking activities. The jobs will go over the next three years, and amount to 16% of its current workforce of 64,000. Losing a total of 39 billion Swiss francs (£26 billion or $42 billion) during the financial crisis, UBS had to be bailed out by the Swiss authorities.

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Commerzbank to cut 6,000 jobs?

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rances O’Grady is to be the next General Secretary of the British Trades Union Congress to succeed Brendan Barber – who retires later this year.

An active trade unionist and campaigner all her working life, she has worked in a range of jobs from shop work to the voluntary sector. Before joining the staff of the TUC in 1994, Frances worked for the Transport and General Workers Union where she was involved in successful campaigns for the introduction of a national minimum wage, equal pay for women and to save the Agricultural Wages Board. As Campaigns Officer for the TUC, Frances ran campaigns for equal rights for part-timers and against low pay. In 1997, she was appointed to head up the New Unionism campaign and launched the TUC’s Organising Academy. As well as driving recruitment campaigns in call centres, supermarkets and new media, the Academy aimed to attract a generation of new ‘young guns’ into the trade union movement to correct the “male, pale and stale” stereotype by recognising that women now account for 50% of UK union members. Appointed to head the TUC’s Organisation Department in 1999 she consolidated the national ‘unionlearn’ brand which now helps a quarter of a million workers into learning every year. As TUC Deputy General Secretary since 2003, Frances has led on industrial policy arguing the case for a strategic approach to rebalancing the British economy in the wake of the financial crash. She also represents the TUC on the Low Pay and the High Pay Commissions, and on the Resolution Foundation’s Commission on Living Standards.

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’m old enough to remember how banking used to be.

I can recall a time long before an exasperated Sir Mervyn King, the governor of the Bank of England, declared: “Of all the many ways of organising banking, the worst is the one we have today.” The puzzle is how once conservative, traditional bank managers changed into people prepared to foist products such as payment protection insurance (PPI) on to their customers. PPI started as a good insurance idea – designed to help people with personal loans or mortgages keep up their payments if they lost their jobs or became ill. But it ended up as one of the most cynically expensive financial products ever to be offered to the British public. Niels Kröner used to work for management consultants, McKinsey. From the mid-1980s, he says, they advised banks how to become more efficient and profitable.

by Michael Robinson This article is based on a recent broadcast on BBC Radio 4. Although the author’s focus is on banking culture in Britain, bank officials working in Ireland will recognise many all-too-familar parallels.

At first, computers were used to automate and centralise data processing previously carried out in branches. Then decisionmaking was automated. That, Mr Kröner says, is when the trouble began, because the result was to distance bankers from their customers. “It all looked really logical and rational at the time,” he says. “But in hindsight, perhaps, one should have told the banks: ‘Beware of the dangers of centralisation,’ and rather stick to a business model that more or less works.”

‘Relentless’ targeting

With the new systems in place, top bankers started producing financial products, such as PPI, and imposing tough targets on branch staff for selling them. Former banker, Cliff D’Arcy, says such systems became pervasive. “The targeting was harsh, severe, relentless,” he said. “Your job was on the line if you didn’t sell enough PPI. Cashiers, assistant managers,

financial advisers, even the manager – everybody would have a personal and a group target towards selling PPI.” In Cambridge, former NatWest cashier, Tim Kierman, says a bonus system, running alongside the selling targets, focused staff on selling – and ultimately misselling – products such as PPI. Mr Kierman was sacked by NatWest in 2009 for helping a campaign against high bank penalty charges. At the time, he was taking home about £1,000 a month – well below the average British wage. So the £200-a-quarter bonus for getting his quota of customers into a room with the branch sales staff – the “customer advisers” – really made a difference. Failure to meet his target did not only threaten his own bonus. If overall branch targets were not met, branch staff would all suffer financial penalties. “You have a customer adviser over your shoulder saying, ‘Why didn’t you get them? Why didn’t

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Lower safety standards ahead: New measures being introduced by the British Government are likely to undermine health and safety standards in the UK (See Page 24).

Imagination is more important than knowledge. Albert Einstein

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As Time Goes By: A former bank official reflectes on his earlier days in some of the AIB branches in the mid west that are now closing (See Page 20).

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scale. But this growing competition gives one of Britain’s top regulators – the widely respected Director of Financial Stability, Andy Haldane – hope for the future.

Tipping point?

Sometimes the system needs to visibly break, he says, before the process of repairing can begin. Recent scandals, such as the manipulation of Libor – the inter-bank lending rate – may prove the tipping point. “What we’ve seen over the course of the last year or two is a much greater energy by the general public into shopping around for their financial services,” Mr Haldane says. “This is manna from heaven. If it comes from customers, it cannot be resisted.

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Face-to-face with customers

The Ludwigsburg Regional Savings Bank has highly computerised, highly centralised back-office SPECTRUM

No targets, no bonuses

Traditional values

The advantages of relationship banking are now widely recognised. But with British banking now operating on a far more adversarial model, there are doubts that such banking can be revived in Britain. Earlier this year, I came across a reason to hope it might. Handelsbanken sounds German, but in fact it’s a Swedish bank, with more than 100 branches

november 2012

in Britain offering traditional relationship banking to personal and business customers. Handelsbanken’s UK chief operating officer, Andy Copsey, has found a hunger in Britain for the basic banking it offers. As a result, he is now opening a new branch every 10 days or so. “I think our traditional values chime with the UK public and the business people out there,” he says. “And that encourages us to continue to open more branches and recruit more staff.”

Andy Haldane, Executive Director of Financial Stability at the Bank of England

Handelsbanken could hardly be more different from the familiar British banking model. It has no targets or bonuses. Its branch staff deal with customers face to face and only in their immediate vicinity. Most lending decisions are made locally – by the branch itself. Most Handelsbanken staff have had careers at one or other of the High Street giants – and all described relief in escaping the top-down selling pressure and the chance to be, as one put it, a “proper banker again.”

“Of all the many ways of organising banking, the worst is the one we have today.” Mervyn King, Governor of the Bank of England

Handelsbanken is not the only alternative model now emerging. A string of new banks is appearing on the High Street. In addition, so-called peerto-peer lenders are starting to cut banks out of the picture entirely, using the internet directly to match lenders with borrowers. I experimented by putting £350 of my own money into a

peer-to-peer lender and ended up with 35 mini-loans of £10 each. One borrower I met, Rob Boufee, got his loan at about half the interest rate his bank charged. Providing he and other borrowers repay in line with forecasts, I will end up with a better return. Peer-to-peer lending is still unregulated and relatively small-

X-FACTOR LIVE TOUR 2013 O2 Arena Dublin Monday February 25 2013 6.30pm Normal Price: €51.65 Special IBOA Price: €38.00 Odyssey Arena Belfast Wednesday February 27 2013 6.30pm Normal Price: £37.50 Special IBOA Price: £25.00 A limited number of tickets are available for IBOA members. So book early to avoid disappointment. Tickets are restricted to a maximum of 6 per member. For more information, see the Union websites – www.iboa.ie or www.iboa.org.uk – or contact the Sports & Social Department in IBOA House on 0(0353-)1-4755908 or 0(044-)2890-200130.

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Banking time-warp

The same change happened in business banking. The former close relationship between branch managers and business clients was replaced by remote, computerised loan approval systems. Pressure on front-line staff to sell their business clients profitable financial products also grew. The extent of the change in Britain is apparent if you go to a place such as Ludwigsburg, a small provincial town in southwest Germany. It is like entering a banking time-warp. Germany has its equivalents of High Street banking giants, but most people in Ludwigsburg use local banks based in the town. The same is true across Germany.

systems, shared with local savings banks across Germany. But that’s where the transformation process ended. Banking in Ludwigsburg is still face-to-face, without targets or bonuses to divert staff from providing local customers – business and personal – with useful financial services. Stephan Kessler, the head of business lending, says long-term relationships result in good quality lending and lower defaults. “I always compare it with going to the doctor,” Mr Kessler says. “You pull down your pants – and you have to do the same with your banker – you trust in each other.”

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you say this? Why didn’t you do this?’” he says. “You don’t want to be having to try to explain how come cashier X can do the job. And you can’t do the job.”

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Customer service key

“And banks being forced to compete on their customer proposition is the way in which this problem can solve itself, without the need from regulators like me to start sticking their finger in the pie.” There’s a long way to go before British banking is back on course. But with a bit of luck, it could be that we have seen the nadir. Slowly, and not without difficulty, a form of banking may just emerge which benefits the British economy as a whole, rather than just feeding on it. S

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As Time Goes By…

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Construction worker, Micheál Breathnach, removes the sign from the AIB bank building in Kildysart, Co. Clare, after it closed down recently (Photo: John Kelly Photography).

As bank branches begin to close all over rural Ireland, former bank official, Fintan Quinn reflects on his time working in the AIB Branches in Kilkee and Kildysart in Co. Clare and Croom in Co. Limerick – all of which have now been earmarked for closure. He has put pen to paper before – as he says himself – his memories are also boarded up and closed for business.

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arrived in Kilkee in 1971 to start my banking career. As the son of a well known publican from Ennis, many customers knew my face already and made it their business to introduce themselves to the new clerk. Across the road from the bank a kind old lady ran a pub and she often had difficulty going down to the cellar and tapping the barrels. So, recognising my pub trade background, I was often asked to assist. As she peeped in the bank’s double doors, her wistful face would beckon me across. On receiving the nod from my manager, I would exit and descend into Mrs. Naughton’s cellar to help her continue to keep her customers happy. When all was in order and the beer and ales were freely flowing, I would return across the road again to my post as cashier at Kilkee AIB.

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t took some time to get used to the telephone. They had to be wound up and then you had to seek the help of an often nosy operator who was only too happy to know your business. In those days the numbers you might dial would be Kilkee 5, Kilkee 4, etc. In mid conversation you might often have to ask the operator to stop listening and, on hearing them click off, it would confirm your worst fears.

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he manager was a kind and gentle individual who enjoyed a tipple now and again. I always knew when he had been on the town as he would ask me on arrival at work the next day if I had seen his car. My duties as clerk would once again switch as we would spend the morning searching and again

at lunchtime for his misplaced automobile. However, we never failed to find it. In later years, I became wiser to the goings-on of village life as I found out that two particular youths had known when the manager was visiting the local public houses and would usually make plans to steal his car and visit nearby villages. However, the car was always returned as the boys’ parents were very friendly with the management.

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he crisis of the cash failing to balance on a Friday evening wasn’t our ideal end to a week’s work. I would instruct the porter to go to the bus stop to tell the bus conductor, Martin, that I would be late. These accounting issues would often mean the bus service to Ennis had many “breakdowns” in Kilkee as they waited for me to balance. Then on Saturday morning, as a form of recompense, the bus conductor would visit my parent’s pub and would be duly rewarded for his patience with a double gin and tonic.

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ages per month were £64 and paid on the 25th. You were not allowed to overdraw as this was a mortal sin punishable by a rebuke from the manager. Following an all-night poker session in the local golf club with some well known sharks, I ended up losing my shirt. I wrote several cheques to stay in the game but to no avail. I spent the next day frantically contacting individuals and requesting them not to lodge the cheques and that I would eventually swop them for cash. Another tragedy averted and an expensive lesson learned. Ú

ne lovely summer’s day the manager’s mother came to visit. She was horrified to see her son, the bank manager, eating his breakfast from the dresser in the kitchen, as this was certainly not how he had been reared back home. His first meal of the day was usual a boiled egg and toast supplied by the porter. On seeing her son’s unusual dining methods, his mother quickly ordered a proper table to be delivered from Cormac O’Shaughnessy’s store. The table conveniently arrived the same day his mother was to return home. The next summer, she visited again and was horrified to find the table in the same position in the hallway and the cardboard still around the legs. It seemed her bachelor son thought his breakfast tasted better off the dresser after all.

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uring the summer in Kilkee there was nothing nicer than to watch the Limerick ladies parade along the strand. On one particular day in the bank, a junior was in charge as the top brass were on holidays. My goodness did this guy enjoy his new power. Late one particularly beautiful evening I asked if we could leave early, only to be handed hundreds of American express cheques to record their numbers on the hand ledgers. As far as I’m concerned hand ledgers are a thing of the past and can stay there. I often wondered did this junior ever get further up the ladder and how many people did he step on along the way?

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ashiers held the keys for the safes with them over the weekend and not many would return after the weekend without them. I must admit I did. Some Monday mornings my father would drive me back for work. Just imagine my fright having arrived on a Monday morning all the way from Ennis without the keys. However, I was informed by management that a spare set was held in the safe in the local Bank of Ireland which was not only a relief for me but for my poor father who had done all the driving.

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transfer on temporary duty was always good. It made a change from base and a few extra quid in my back pocket which was often badly needed. Kilrush, just a

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few miles down the road, was my first temporary assignment. The boarding house was in the square and the landlord had several good looking daughters, which made my transfer that bit easier. I remember one well-known banker coming back in the evening and washing his shirt in the bedroom hand basin, with which each bedroom was equipped, and hanging it to dry out the top window for all and sundry travelling through the square to see. He would then entertain us for dinner in his vest and return upstairs to fetch his shirt for a night on the town. This was a regular occurrence. It was washed for the night out and then, no doubt, always good enough for the next day in the bank.

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n those years if you worked until six you would get a tea allowance of 10 shillings. The manager there always seemed to come downstairs from his lodgings a few minutes before six. We knew he was coming as the old floorboards creaked terribly. He would then tell us to finish up and go home, thus causing us to lose out on our tea allowance. However, I have no doubt that this man had the interests of the bank at heart.

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fter Kilrush I got another temporary transfer to Kildysart. This was a great office. No customers would come in after 2:30pm. So everything was balanced before 3pm and closed to the public at 3pm. Many a day I was back in Ennis before 3:45pm. In those days the last customer was usually Aidan Tuttle, a well known character from Ennis who was managing a large enterprise in the area. Luckily, it did not take much to convince him to bank early thus allowing us home early also.

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y next major posting was in Croom – a little town outside Limerick City. But there was no bus connection to the city from there. All that sat beside us were pubs – Cantwell’s, Halpin’s and Knight’s – often leaving nothing else to do but banking and boozing. I soon realised that I would be an alcoholic if I was to remain. In this branch there were four of us. I lived in Molly’s house out the Limerick road. This landlady was a lovely old sort who seemed to have a huge grá for the Assistant Manager.

Rural Ireland is fading fast and more of the local establishments that held it together are closing by the day – post offices, Garda stations, schools, pubs and bank branches. Of course, the buildings are just bricks and mortar, it is and was the people and memories that gathered in them down through the years that leave that special lasting effect on – not only me – but everyone that was lucky enough to experience them.

He was nearing retirement and always loved a small brandy in his coffee at 11am. He thought the customers would not smell it while he was engaging in business with them. Molly would send all sort of messages to him through me to which he never showed any surprise. There must have been something I missed.

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ur manager there, who was a widower, liked to mingle with the lords and ladies, as this area had many of the horsey, aristocratic types. One night he invited some titled lady to dinner along with the staff in his upstairs lodgings in the bank. The poor man spent the night trying to impress her ladyship. He had even set up his son and daughter to enter with the coffee at the end of the evening. But I am sure it was not part of the grand plan that the coffee pot came down on her ladyship’s lap.

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aving gained huge enjoyment from this comical end to the night I knew then my days were numbered. Soon enough, it didn’t take much for me to pay the price for my enjoyment at their expense – as one day I forgot to put a canvas bag with old pennies into the safe at the end of the working day. The following morning the old porter was sweeping up and found the bag. He reported me to the manager and I was severely spoken to. Not long after this I handed in my notice – thus ending a career that could have been. S

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The King Memorandum

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If you have enjoyed reading David’s articles in Spectrum you may like to know that he has published a book, available for download to Kindle devices. A spoof football autobiography, the book is entitled “Georgie Charlton – My Unbelievable Life as a Footballer” and costs £0.77 (or euro equivalent) from amazon.co.uk. You can also browse the first few chapters free. spectrum

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Governor

Standard Template Letter to Chancellor on Failing to Meet Inflation Target Annotated To the Chancellor of the Exchequer

From the Governor of the Bank of England Dear Chancellor / George / Osborne / Little Rich Boy / Nosey Neb / Me

LONDON EC2R 8AH

Rt Hon George Osborne Chancellor of the Exchequer 11 Downing Street London SW1A 2AA

Consumer Price Inflation is now 4% / 5% / 6% / 7% / 8% / pretty high / out of control

(PS – let’s not bother with that decimal point stuff, it’s too technical. To the nearest whole percentage figure is fine with me)

Dear Chancellor You may recall that I have written to you on a number of occasions in the past few years explaining why we have not met our inflation target. In fact this is my tenth letter to you on the topic. So if you don’t recall them, I would be slightly concern ed that the country’s finances might not be in safe hands. I’m a bit worried about that anyway – but that’s a different matter. Let’s not go there. It was Dour Gordon who instigated this nonsense about me having to write to you on this topic. He probably thought it was some sort of vote winner to have greater transparency. But most people don’t understand the content of the letters anyway. To be truthful I struggle a bit with it myself and usually delegate the ‘wordsm ithing’ to one of my minions. I do sign the letters, myself, though. I must say that, even with the use of minions, I find the whole process rather tiresome and I’m sure you do too. But there’s little we can do about it since Gordon incorporated the requirement in an Act of Parliament. What a bozo! Everybody knows you should always leave some room for manoeuvre. Still, I guess it’s the least of the problems he left behind. Nevertheless, I do believe that we can streamline the process and save a few minions. Note that I said minions, not millions. I propose that we use a standard template for future letters, with a simple ‘delete as appropriate’ approach to the usual four questions. I think this would play well in the public arena in the current financial climate, as they would see that we are resolute in our determination to cut costs. The draft template is enclosed. As you will see, I propose to eliminat e all of that gobbledegook about quantitative easing, fluctuating exchange rates, volatilit y of global markets, macro-economics and suchlike, thus leaving it more underst andable to the man in the street. I trust that you will embrace its simplicity, transparency and searing I look forward to hearing from you. Kindest regards

Mervyn

Mervyn King

november 2012

honesty.

Consumer Price Inflation target is 2%

(PS – can we just revise this upwards to cut back further on future correspondence?) Question 1: Why has inflation moved away from the target? • Prices have gone up • The target is too low • See my nine previous letters • Do you know how much petrol costs these days? • It’s a global thing • It’s too technical to explain • It’s the economy stupid • Search me Question 2: Over what period do we expect inflation to return to the target? • Depends if you are willing to change the target • Sometime next year • Or the year after • Sometime • Pencil in 2020 • Probably best if we don’t put a time limit on it as it only raises unrealistic expectations

Question 3: What policy action is the Bank taking? We are going to: • play about with the base rate • print a lot more money • put more boffins in front of the TV cameras to baffle the viewers with science • develop a strategy for blaming others • drill for oil in the Midlands • start another war to divert attention, ideally with an oil rich country • what do you mean what action are we taking – have you got no ideas of your own? Question 4: How does this approach meet the Government’s monetary policy objectives? • How would we know? We’re supposed to be independent • TBH, it’s not an area I’m strong on • I think that one is best covered by the new Governor • It fits perfectly as we are both bluffing our way

Kindest regards

Big Merv (PS – re Question 4, I thought we were responsible for monetary policy, not the Government. Please clarify.) november 2012

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When Gordon Brown was UK Chancellor of the Exchequer in 1997, he gave the Bank of England independence from political control along with the freedom to determine interest rates and monetary policy. I’m sure it never entered his tiny little head that it also gave him somebody else to blame when things started to go pear shaped. As part of the arrangement the British Government has set the Bank a target inflation rate – currently 2% – and enshrined in legislation a requirement for the Governor of the Bank to write an open letter of explanation if the inflation rate varied by more than 1% from the target. Since George Osborne became Chancellor of the Exchequer in 2010, the Governor of the Bank of England, Sir Mervyn King, has written to him nine times to explain the economic situation. As each letter must provide responses to the same four standard questions, I can only marvel at the level of creativity and obfuscation that must go into each response to differentiate it from its growing list of predecessors. In this age of streamlining and cost-cutting, there must be a more efficient way of dealing with this issue. So with that in mind, I offer this suggested draft for Sir Mervyn’s next letter. Of course, as Sir Mervyn enters the last few months of his tenure before handing over to a new Governor, his tone might be rather more cynical and a lot more flippant.

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If you have any questions or concerns about health, safety or security in your workplace, please contact a member of your local health and safety committee in the first instance. If there is no health and safety committee in your workplace, please contact one of the following members of the Union’s National Committee: Elaine Barker (BOI), Carmel Curran (FTB), Margaret Power (BOI-GB), Stephen Kennedy (BOI), Etain Ryan Lyons (AIB), Jaynette Stirling (UBG-NI), Kate Varley (AIB) and Billy Barrett, IBOA’s Senior Industrial Relations Officer. You can contact all of these by e-mail at safety@iboa.ie or by phone at 00353-(0)1-4755908 or 00-44-(0)2890200130. SPECTRUM spectrum

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British workplaces are about to get a lot more hazardous

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identified by the government, such as shops, actually experience high levels of workplace injuries. This will only get worse if employers find it easier to ignore safety risks.” PCS General Secretary, Mark Serwotka, added: “It is simply absurd to describe the health and welfare of people at work as a burden. “Instead of giving a green light to In a bid to remove “unnecessary red employers to make their workplaces tape,” the UK Business Secretary, Vince more dangerous, ministers Cable (main picture), has should be investing to enannounced that in future sure people are not put at businesses will only be inrisk when they go to work.” spected if they are operating “Cutting proactive inspecin high risk areas, such as tions could be disastrous,” construction, or if they have said CWU General Secrea poor record. tary, Billy Hayes. “Moving A legally binding statto a reactive system would utory code outlawing promean that people would active inspections of in all have to be injured, become but ‘high risk areas’ will be ill or die before any inspecintroduced in April 2013. tion took place – rather Britain’s Health and than preventing these inciBrendan Barber, Safety Executive (HSE) will dents happening in the first General Secretary, also be required to ensure British TUC place.” local authority regulators “No case has been made abide by the non-inspection for this attack on health and rules. safety provisions,” said Chris Even before Cable’s Keates of the education latest announcement, the union, NAS-UWT. HSE had already included She said “the drive to desome known higher risk regulate health and safety workplaces, like agriculture is a return to the dark ages and quarries, in its “nowhen the lives of working go” categories for unanpeople had no value.” nounced inspections. Meanwhile UNISON’s Condemning the proJames Randall said: “The posals, outgoing TUC Gengovernment does not take Chris Keates of the eral Secretary, Brendan Barber, said: “some of NAS-UWT education into consideration occupaunion in Britain tional ill-health – such as the ‘low risk’ workplaces

renewed drive by the UK Government to stop official safety inspections in hundreds of thousands of businesses and to force regulators to take a hands-off approach will put the health of millions of workers at risk, according to the British Trades Union Congress.

musculoskeletal disorders and work-related stress – which are the most common types of illhealth in so-called low risk workplaces, and account for more than three-quarters of all work-related injuries and illness currently suffered in the UK.” Around 90% of the HSE’s occupational health inspections will cease as a result of a the Government’s plans, according to the Prospect trade union. A Government consultation which ended last month proposes removing the requirement on employers to inform the HSE of conditions – including certain strain injuries, poisonings, vibration diseases, dermatitis and occupational cancers, dust diseases and asthma. Prospect says that occupational health cover has already been decimated in the HSE – which now has only three occupational physicians and eighteen occupational health inspectors – down from sixty of each in the early 1990s. Prospect points out that the HSE’s Corporate Medical Unit is so depleted it can no longer provide basic cover on occupational health advice and prevention. Overall, the number of HSE staff has dropped from 3,702 in April 2010 to 2,889 in June 2012.

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he IBOA Safety, Health, Welfare and Security (SHWS) Committee aims to work with members and employers to create healthier, safer working environments. IBOA has produced guidelines on your rights under health and safety legislation in the Republic and Northern Ireland. These can be accessed on the IBOA websites by following these links: • www.iboa.ie/knowyourrights/your rightsroi/healthsafety.html for the Republic of Ireland; and • www.iboa.org.uk/knowyourrights/ yourrightsni.html for Northern Ireland.

IBOA NEWS

www.iboa.ie

It’s your right to work in safety and security!

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Getting the message across: Important developments in IBOA’s information technology capacity should enable IBOA to improve its ability to communicate directly with members on the issues they prefer to be informed about (See Page 32).

Getting organised: The Union is in the process of appointing two organisers to assist in the effort to build IBOA’s strength (See Page 33).

Getting to grips with IT: IBOA’s training courses for members in information technology continue to attract widespread interest and demand (See Page 33).

10% off all products purchased in the Republic of Ireland or Northern Ireland on presentation of your IBOA membership card in store.

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ARTS & LEISURE

One Rule for the Rich… he extremely generous compensation packages paid to former banking bosses illustrate once again that there is “one rule for the rich and another for the rest,” said IBOA General Secretary, Larry Broderick.

“While the lavish golden parachutes for those at the top apparently come with cast-iron guarantees, there have been no such assurances for ordinary bank staff who are facing redundancy and early retirement on modest terms.” “Since the onset of the banking crisis IBOA has been highlighting the exceptional treatment for former senior executives across the financial service sector who have been allowed to walk away from the wreckage of Irish banking largely unscathed and with the benefit of super-pensions worth many multiples of the average wage. “While the hypocrisy of this situation offends common sense and natural justice, we learn from the Republic’s Minister for Finance that these generous executive pension arrangements must be honoured because they are contractual. Our members have

The recent focus on the generous pension provisions for former bank bosses shows that the contractual entitlements of senior executives are apparently more binding than those of ordinary employees.

some difficulty understanding this point since their contractual entitlements – involving very modest amounts – have been consistently challenged by employers in the financial services sector. “Like so much else in Irish life,” he observed, “there seems to be one rule for the rich and another for the rest!” Perhaps the most striking example of this is the now defunct Irish Nationwide Building Society where former Chief Executive, Michael Fingleton (below left) walked away with a personal pension pot worth a staggering E26 million out of a total pension fund of E32 million. So staff of the former INBS who were not only disadvantaged by being poorly paid in work were facing the prospect of an even more impoverished retirement. Since IBOA became involved with those staff, we managed to secure some improvements in their position. “In the financial service sector, in general, which is undergoing an unprecedented level of restructuring, arrangements have been put in place for voluntary redundancy and early retirement based on actuarially reduced pensions which, in seeking to provide modest support for retiring staff, are light years

away from the lavish golden parachutes which apparently must be paid to former senior executives. “No less than the general public, our members are angry that those deemed to be largely responsible for the virtual collapse of Irish banking have yet to be held to account – even though thousands of jobs have been lost in the financial sector and many thousands more in the wider economy,” said Mr. Broderick.

Remuneration Review

“IBOA is aware that the Irish Government has recently commissioned a review of remuneration in Irish banking. “IBOA intends to participate in this review in order to highlight the disastrous consequences of the remuneration system which has emerged over the last decade or so and which relies to an unhealthy degree on performance-related pay and bonuses. “IBOA believes that a rebalancing of the structure of rewards within the sector is absolutely essential to reform the culture of Irish banking in order to promote sound ethical principles based on genuine service to the customer,” he declared.

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Securing wider support: The IBOA delegation won support for the Union’s position against contracting work abroad from the recent AGM of the Irish Conference of Professional Service Asssociations (See Page 31).

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Think wrongly, if you please. But in all cases think for yourself. Doris Lessing

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Back to Croker: The Union’s 2013 Biennial Delegate Conference will return to Croke Park in Dublin in April (See Page 30).

IBOA NEWS

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Ready to run for IBOA: The New Year sees important elections to key committees within the Union (See Page 28).

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iboawise

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Ready to run for IBOA Candidates prepare to contest key Union Committee elections

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embers considering running for election to the Union’s Executive Committee or to the IBOA Youth Committee have until mid-February to confirm their intention to seek office.

February 16 will be the closing date for the receipt of nominations from IBOA members for all of the seats on the two bodies. Each nominee must be proposed and seconded by an IBOA member. Any election contests will be decided by ballot votes of the IBOA members in each of the contested constituencies. Polling is scheduled to close on March 15 – with the new Executive Committee for 2013-2015, due to take up office at the end of the Union’s Biennial Delegate Conference in Dublin on April 27.

The forthcoming election will be key in determining the composition of the Executive Committee which will have a major role in shaping IBOA’s strategic response to the continuing crisis in the financial services sector. The Executive is responsible, under the Union’s Constitution, for supervising the business and affairs of IBOA and directing the Union’s general policy. Full details of the composition of each of the thirty-seven constituencies for the Executive Committee elections are available on the IBOA websites at www.iboa.ie/about/structure/ constituencies or www.iboa.org.uk/ about/structure/constituencies. Candidates for the fourteen seats on the Union’s Youth Committee must be under 35 years of age on the closing date for the receipt of nominations (February 16). For more information on the role of the IBOA Youth Committee, please contact Gareth Murphy in IBOA House.

Nominations for Executive Committee elections close: February 16, 2013

IBOA EXTRA

WORK AGENDA

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National Bank veterans get together

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ormer members of the staff of the old National Bank – which became part of Bank of Ireland in 1966 – met recently to reminisce about old times and reflect generally on the state of Irish banking.

The occasion for the reunion was the Annual General Meeting of the National Bank Staff Life Assurance (Dublin) Society.

Pictured above, the group of veteran bank officials included former IBOA President, Pat O’C. Hegarty (standing fourth from left) and former

Executive Committee member, Liam Ó Raghallaigh (seated far right). Our older readers might like to try to identify the rest of the group. www.iboa.org.uk

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The meeting place for IBOA members in Belfast The Belfast Bankers Club

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E30 off glasses from the E149 range or above in the Irish Republic

Please phone: 028-90382866 after 5.30pm or e-mail: johncampbell.boxing@hotmail.co.uk

FORIBOAMEMBERS £20 off glasses from the £99 range or above in Great Britain and Northern Ireland To receive your SpecSavers discount voucher, call 0(0-353-)1-4755908 or 0(0-44-)2890-200130

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november 2012

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SPECSAPPEAL

Open Monday-Friday from 5.30pm Available for parties any day on request. There is no charge for parties or room booking The BBC BBQ in August

Upcoming functions:

‘Christmas Eve’ on Friday 21st December – Disco from 8.00pm The Real Christmas Eve on Monday 24th December – Doors open 1.00pm (Home early to face the 25th) november 2012

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IBOA THE FINANCE UNION

IBOA THE FINANCE UNION

www.iboa.ie

31 Malone Road Belfast BT9 6RU

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Back to Croker Biennial Delegate Conference returns to Croke Park in 2013

Some members of the IBOA delegation at the recent AGM of the Irish Conference of Civil and Professional Service Associations: (from left) John O’Gorman, Margaret Power, David Keane, Fionnuala Duignan, Elaine Barker and Stephen Kennedy.

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the Conference programme and other documentation. The Area Meetings also provided an important opportunity for members to consider recent developments in the sector as a whole as well as within individual employments – with particular emphasis on the Union’s responses to the unprecedented challenges facing the sector.

Be a Member Organiser for IBOA!

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elegates to the Annual General Meeting of the Irish Conference of Civil and Professional Services Association (ICPSA) gave unanimous support to a motion from IBOA on the danger of outsourcing of jobs in Irish banking to locations outside Ireland.

With recent developments in Ulster Bank very much in mind, the Union highlighted the potential pitfalls of attempting to conduct highly sensitive and specialised engagements with customers from a remote location – as well as the obvious loss of employment opportunities at a time when both the financial sector and the economy as a

whole was going through a major jobs crisis. Proposing the motion on behalf of the Union, John O’Gorman from the Union’s Executive Committee said that finance workers had a real fear that if Ulster Bank is allowed to proceed with its latest proposals to outsource 150 jobs in collection and recovery to Scotland,

then other financial institutions in Ireland could be tempted to follow their example by offshoring other important roles. Conference backed the IBOA’s campaign on the issue and agreed to contact Government Ministers in the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland along with the regulatory authorities.

IBOA Pensioners’ Committee

Building the Union by improving participation and recruiting more members is vital to increase IBOA’s bargaining power with individual employers and with governments and regulators. As part of our new organising strategy IBOA is seeking members who are committed to this approach to volunteer to become Member Organisers in their area. Our volunteer Member Organisers will receive training and support from the Union’s new Organising Unit to enable them to: • profile their workplace; • engage with members and non-members; and • ultimately build the Union’s strength in their area. They will also be able to participate in the Member Organisers’ incentive scheme – which will recognise their efforts in tangible ways. Not only is this a great development opportunity for individual members who wish to become more involved in the Union – but it will also assist the Union to meet the many challenges facing members in general. If you want to know more, please contact our Lead Organiser, Gareth Murphy in IBOA House or by e-mailing gareth.murphy@iboa.ie

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The IBOA Pensioners’ Committee will meet on Wednesday December 12 in

www.iboa.org.uk

The issues covered in the motions reflect the key concerns of members at the present time – including job security, staffing levels, remuneration policies and the need to change the culture of the sector. Once all the motions from the Area Meetings have been forwarded to IBOA House, they will be collated and circulated in February – along with

www.iboa.ie

General Secretary, Larry Broderick, addresses the Union’s last Biennial Delegate Conference in Croke Park, Dublin in 2011 (Photo: Leon Farrell/Photocall Ireland).

IBOA House to consider the motions it wishes to submit for the Union’s Biennial Delegate Conference which will take place in Croke Park, Dublin, next April. The Physio Company is a growing chartered physiotherapy company with 21 clinics already in operation across Cork, Waterford, Galway and Dublin. On production of their Union card, IBOA members are entitled to: • E10 discount on treatment charges • Preferred Appointment Times • Free 15 minute Assessment

The meeting will also hear reports

on recent developments at the Irish Senior Citizens’ Parliament as well as the ICTU Retired Workers’ Committee.

IBOA President, Jessie Doherty,

will also address the meeting.

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IBOA THE FINANCE UNION

At a time of unprecedented change within the financial services sector, the BDC will be a crucial opportunity for IBOA activists to meet to consider the future. A series of Area Meetings are well under way in preparation for the Conference, as we go to press, The meetings at venues in Britain as well as Northern Ireland and the Republic have been considering a range of propositions – proposed by members and voted on by the meetings – to be put to the Biennial Delegate Conference in the form of motions.

www.iboa.ie

www.iboa.org.uk

BOA’s next Biennial Delegate Conference (BDC) will be held at the Croke Park Convention Centre in Dublin on April 26 and 27.

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Getting organised I

BOA is to appoint two organisers to help to build union membership. The new posts – which have been advertised extensively within the Union and externally – have attracted significant interest.

Lead Organiser, Gareth Murphy, who will head up what will become the Union’s new Organising Unit, said that the Executive Committee has developed a comprehensive programme aimed at improving the Union’s bargaining leverage within the financial services sector. “Extending the various benefits of IBOA membership will undoubtedly be of value to those new members who join the Union. But it will also help to enhance our capacity to bargain on behalf of our existing members, too,” said Murphy. “The strength of the Union in our negotiations with employers, Government

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News you can use – just as you choose IBOA currently communicates with its members in a variety of ways – by e-mail, text, fax and the internet as well as using the postal system for delivering Spectrum and the Union diary.

IBOA Members’ Diary 2013 The 2013 IBOA Members’ Diary has been mailed to all current members with this issue of Spectrum. Any pensioner members who would like to receive a diary should contact Jane Higgins in IBOA House by e-mail at info@iboa.ie or by phone on 00-353-1-4755908 or 00-44-2890-200130.

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At the same time, all of the bulletins and updates – which are circulated to members either directly by e-mail and fax or indirectly through their Union reps – are also posted on the Union’s website. From early in 2013 every member will receive a regular summary of recent developments in their employment on a periodic basis. But, if they wish for more frequent communications, members will also be able to opt to receive notifications about every bulletin issued to the IBOA workplace reps in their employment – sometimes as often as daily. Any members with personal interests in particular topics like training, equality, pensions, and so on, will also be able to opt to receive specific notifications from the Union. Meanwhile, all members will continue to have direct access to the comprehensive range of information on the Union websites – including the My IBOA area which is only available to members. A new electronic payment system will also be available shortly to facilitate any members who buy tickets for entertainment and other events at the special IBOA members’ discount prices. This development is being prompted by the impending demise of the cheque – which has been the traditional method for payment for the discounted tickets.

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nology and is suitable for members in need of a quick refresher in Word, Excel, Powerpoint and using the web. In Northern Ireland, meanwhile, demand continues to be very strong for the more advanced IT courses – provided with the assistance of the North West Regional College – in IBOA’s IT Training Suite in the Belfast Bankers Club and other venues. For further information on all training opportunities for IBOA members, contact Keelin Murray in IBOA House on 0(0-353-)1-4755908 or 0(0-44-) 2890-200130.

ntry level IT courses have now begun for IBOA members in the Dublin area, with support from the Trade Union Skillnet.

This new initiative from IBOA’s Training Department follows the overwhelming success of the IT programme provided for our members in Northern Ireland in conjunction with the Union Learning Fund (ULF). The latest course, which has just begun in IBOA House, Dublin, provides a taste of information tech-

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arly next year, after the current process of upgrading the Union’s membership system has been completed, IBOA will introduce a new approach to communications – which will allow every member to indicate by what medium they wish to receive information from the Union and how often they wish to receive it.

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IBOA Lead Organiser, Gareth Murphy

Your IBOA Subscriptions:

Claiming A Refund If there is a change in your employment circumstances – like moving onto part-time hours or changing to job-sharing, you may be entitled to avail of a lower subscription rate. The current membership categories and rates are published on the IBOA websites at www.iboa.ie/join/subscriptions.html and www.iboa. org.uk/join/subscriptions.html. Please make sure you inform IBOA Head Office of any change as soon as possible so that your subscription rate can be adjusted – and you receive prompt refund of any overpayments. Please note that the rebate for any overpayments will be capped at the amount overpaid for the first 24 months after the change of status occurred. You can check your personal profile online in the My IBOA section of the Union websites and make any necessary amendments there – or you can contact the Membership Department in Head Office at the address below. Membership Department • IBOA The Finance Union • IBOA House • Stephen Street Upper • Dublin 8 • Tel: (00353)-1-4755908 or (0044)-2890-200130 • E-mail: info@iboa.ie

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Getting the message across

or regulators is ultimately a matter of leverage – and the more finance workers we represent the more leverage we can exert on their behalf.” “So our aim will be to strengthen our membership in those employments where we are already organised – as well as developing initiatives to engage with staff in new employments. “The applications for the organiser roles – which will be hired on a fixed term contract – are currently being assessed to create a short-list for interview. The new posts should be filled early in the New Year,” he said.

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IBOA goes wild: The Union’s annual family days to zoos in Belfast, Dublin and Cork are extremely popular. (See Pages 36-37)

Ghostbuster: Former IBOA member, Canon David Pierpoint is now known as one as Ireland’s leading exorcists (See Page 40).

Dark Matter: Former IBOA member, Louise Phillips has made a big impression with her debut thriller (See Page 41).

Barney beats them all: IBOA’s long-serving member is Barney Bennett, aged 97, from Cork (See Page 39).

Equality Tool-kit: Brian Sheehan reports on a recent equality seminar held in IBOA House – and the launch of a new Equality Toolkit for Trade Unions (See Page 42).

ileen Gorman has been elected by the Union’s Danske Group Executive Committee as its new Officer to succeed Robert Thompson who left Northern Bank during the summer.

To enable Eileen to discharge her IBOA duties, Northern Bank management has agreed to second her from her role as Senior Cards Adviser in Northern Bank’s Cards Services Department, in Donegal Square West, Belfast. A member of the Union since she was first employed by Northern Bank in 1991, Eileen had fifteen years’ experience working at branch level before transferring to the Bank’s Head Office in 2006. Her first posting was as relief in Royal Avenue, Belfast. She worked as relief in a number of other locations until she was permanently assigned to the Falls Branch in 1993 where her involvement in IBOA grew – as she become the Branch Rep in 1995 and then Bank District Secretary in 2003. Shortly after Eileen’s transfer to Card Services in Customer Direct in 2006, she was elected to IBOA’s Executive Committee in 2007.

Eileen’s immediate aims are to enhance the Union’s overall visibility among all Danske employees in Ireland and to improve her members’ access to IBOA. “My primary goal is to visit as many work locations as possible to introduce myself to members and let them know I’m always available to try to address their concerns,” says Eileen. “In any business, the prospect of major change can give rise to anxiety for many staff. That’s only natural. In fact, I believe it’s a healthy response – because it shows that they are serious about their work. “I would like to think that any of our members who are concerned about any aspect of their work would be able to contact me for information and assistance. “As for the major collective issues like pay and job security, I will be working very closely with the Union’s Senior Industrial Relations Officer, Gerry Hanna, and my colleagues on the IBOA Danske Group Executive Committee, to try to deliver the best possible outcome for our members throughout the Danske Group in Ireland.”

Two new Executive Committee members T wo new members took their seats on the IBOA Executive Committee to fill recent vacancies – as Donal Walsh replaced Neasa Coady in the AIB South-East constituency and Michael Connolly replaced Robert Thompson in the Northern Bank Outside Belfast constituency.

One never notices what has been done; one can only see what remains to be done. Marie Curie

Charitable Donation: This year the Union’s charitable donations are being made to organisations involved with raising awareness of suicide and self-harm (See Page 43).

Willie is retiring: Bank of Ireland District Secretary takes his leave (See Page 43). Donal Walsh

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Eileen takes up her new Union role at a critical time for staff in the Danske Group as the Bank completes a major transformation of its National Irish operation in the Republic and generally reshapes its business on the entire island under a unified Danske Bank brand.

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Both Donal and Michael will serve out the remainder of the current Executive Committee’s two-year term which ends next April. A Senior Bank Official with Northern Bank, Michael Connolly, has been an IBOA member since 1981 and has

served as a Bank District Secretary in Armagh since 1997. Donal Walsh is also a Senior Bank Official – having joined IBOA thirty-three years ago. Donal has served as a Bank District Secretary in Waterford for nine years. november 2012

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New IBOA Danske Group Officer elected

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Thousands of IBOA members along with friends and families took part in the Union’s Annual Family Zoo Days in recent months at Fota Wildlife Park, near Midleton in County Cork, and at Dublin and Belfast Zoos. With free admission thanks to IBOA, around 7,000 visitorswentto DublinZoo,while almost1,000enjoyedBelfast Zoo with a further 835 at Fota.

IBOA Annual Family Zoo Day photos: Irene Breen, Liam Ross and Séamas Sheils

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Barney is our oldest member… A

ged 97, Barney Bennett, is believed to be IBOA’s oldest and longest serving member with eighty years unbroken membership on the clock.

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Joining the IBOA at the age of 17 when he began his banking career, Barney progressed through the ranks to become Manager of the Bandon Branch of the old Provincial Bank in 1966 – and after fourteen years retired in 1980. As a resident now in the Choice Care Home in Clonakilty, Barney has retained a loyal circle of friends among many of those who worked with him in Bandon. According to John McKenna of the Union’s Pensioners’ Committee, Barney is “one of nature’s gentlemen.” “He took a particular interest in new entrants to the bank and always made sure the first thing they did on commencement of their career was to join the IBOA.” As a Branch Manager “he was a most approachable and honourable man,” says John, “who ensured that every staff member – especially the younger ones – were always treated with dignity and positivity.” Known for his interest in deep sea fishing and engineering, Barney is very good company and enjoys sharing his memories of past times in banking with any IBOA member who drops in to see him.

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DarkMatter

Ex-bank official exorcises troubling presences

Ex-bank official produces acclaimed debut thriller

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This more unusual aspect of the work of the Archdeacon of Dublin was highlighted recently in an article on the property pages of The Irish Times. As a history of paranormal activity may not constitute a unique selling point for a house or office building these days, the specialist services of clergymen like David are often in demand. Not only does he offer deliverance ministry to others, as The Irish Times explains, he has even had it done in his own family home in after a presence became “more annoying than dangerous.”

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he psychological crime thriller, Red Ribbons, written by former IBOA member, Louise Phillips, has taken the literary world by storm this year.

Archdeacon David Pierpoint (Photo: Alan Betson, Irish Times) “The TV would switch itself on and off, even if it wasn’t plugged in, and lights would flick on and off even if there was no-one in the house,” he told the newspaper. David joined IBOA in 1974 as an employee of Ulster Bank. Twelve years later he left banking

for a career in the Anglican church – culminating in his installation as Archdeacon of Dublin in 2004. He has had a long-standing interest in the development of Dublin’s inner city and the health service and was appointed chair of the Tallaght Hospital Board in 2011.

DON’T BE LATE FOR THIS VERY IMPORTANT DATE! Once again, Cheerios and Cork Opera House aim to present a spectacular Christmas pantomime. Join Alice, Mad Hatter, The Tweedles, the White Rabbit and a host of timeless characters in a magical roller-coaster ride for all the family. Tickets for the performance at 2.30pm on Saturday, January 5, 2013 are available for IBOA members at the specially discounted rate of E20 (normal price: E27) from Stephen Kennedy at Bank of Ireland, 32 South Mall, Cork.

LIFE & STYLE

Louise, who had worked in Bank of Ireland from her early twenties, returned to her passion of writing six years ago. Having won various literary awards – including the Jonathan Swift Award, the Irish Writers’ Centre Lonely Voice Platform, along with short-listing for Bridport UK, the Molly Keane Memorial Award, and the RTE/ Penguin short story competition, in 2012 she received an Art Bursary for Literature from South County Dublin. Her debut novel, Red Ribbons, centres on the abduction and murder of twelve-year-old schoolgirls, with criminal psychologist, Dr Kate Pearson, who is brought in by police to get inside the mind of the killer before he strikes again. It made the Irish bestseller list in the first week of release, receiving rave reviews, particularly for the insight it offers into the emotions of a mother who has lost her child. Chosen by Hughes and Hughes, as their Parents’ Choice for the October-November issue of the Irish Parent magazine, Red Ribbons achieved the most successful launch in the booksellers’ 26 -year history. “I think the fear of the ‘bad man’, whoever he might be, and however we recognise him in his many guises, has changed considerably in modern Ireland,” Louise told Spectrum. “This is one of the central themes of the novel. We’re all too aware of the sins of the past: but even in today’s world, where the protection of our children has never been more to the forefront, are we really equipped to recognise this danger.”

You can find out more about Louise, and her debut novel on her website, www. louise-phillips.com Red Ribbons is available now in bookstores nationwide, or from Amazon in both Kindle and paperback editions. Louise Phillips Reviewed by RTE’s arts programme, Arena, Red Ribbons has been described by best-selling crime writer, Arlene Hunt, as “a cracker of a novel, and a phenomenal debut.” Louise’s writing has overtones of both Sophie

Hannah and Tana French. Red Ribbons certainly seems like a ‘must read’ novel and the Literary Panel of the Bord Gais Energy Irish Book Awards agree, as it has been shortlisted for Crime Novel of the Year 2012.

CHAPTERS BOOKSTORE Parnell Street Dublin 1

10%

discount for IBOA members Show your IBOA membership card at the pay point november 2012

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www.iboa.org.uk www.iboa.ie IBOA THE FINANCE UNION

WORK AGENDA

GhostBuster lthough many former colleagues might wish he could turn his attention to some of the malign spirits who have haunted Irish banking in recent years, one-time IBOA member, the Venerable David Pierpoint, is often required to perform exorcisms as part of his ministry with the Church of Ireland.

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LIFE & STYLE

ARTS & LEISURE

Women should “play the game” in order to “change the game”

“Y

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Pictured at the official launch of the Equality Toolkit for Trade Unions were Carol Sheffer (CWU), Marian Geoghegan (IBOA), Justice Yvonne Murphy, Carol Baxter (Equality Authority) Anne Casey (Toolkit Editor) Stefania Minervino (Equality Authority). Aileen Morrissey (MANDATE). Women need to project themselves in including use of social media – is of major all sorts of ways. When entering a meeting, importance, according to McLoughlin. for example, a woman should sit in a po Other speakers included Tom Healy, sition that gets proper attention – and not Director of the Nevin Economic Research slip into a seat at the back or at the side. Institute; INTO General Secretary, Sheila Women should use “simple and direct” Nunan, and Bride Rosney, Secretary of the language and be careful not to overdo Mary Robinson Foundation for Climate “the nodding” and avoid being “overly Justice. smiley.” And they must curb their ten A new equality tool-kit for trade dency to say “we” when describing their unions was launched after the seminar. own achievements – and learn to say Brian Sheehan/ “I” – like many men do. Networking – Industrial Relations News

Handling Change A history of IBOA Published by the Collins Press and written by Paul Rouse and Mark Duncan, Handling Change was specially commissioned by the Union. The evolution of the IBOA offers a fascinating picture of Ireland – not least of how banking moved from a thoroughly conservative industry to one so reckless as to bankrupt the Irish State. IBOA has a limited number of copies of the book for sale to members at the special discount price of E10 or £8 (including postage and packing). To order up to two copies at the special discount price, please send your name, address, the number of copies required and your IBOA membership number – together with a cheque or postal order for the appropriate amount to IBOA History Orders at IBOA House, Stephen Street Upper, Dublin 8 or e-mail history@iboa.ie.

SPECTRUM

november 2012

IBOA backs suicide prevention charities

Thanks, Willie!

The IBOA Executive Committee has decided that this year the Union’s annual charitable donations will support charities working on the issues of suicide and self-harm. In the Republic, the Union has donated E5,000 to Pieta House, a nonprofit organisation providing a specialised treatment programme for people who have suicidal thoughts or who participate in self-harming behaviours. The Union has also made donations of £1,500 to Console – an Irish charity specialising in bereavement counselling for people affected by suicide which is about to open a new office in London – and £2,500 to the Public Initiative for the Prevention of Suicide and Self-Harm (PIPS) in Northern Ireland.

An IBOA Bank Secretary since 2007, Willie Foley, is leaving the position as he retires from his job as a Senior Bank Official with Bank of Ireland in Dublin. An IBOA member since 1980, Willie (pictured above – front and centre) received the congratulations and good wishes of his fellow Bank Secretaries at a recent meeting of IBOA activists in Bank of Ireland in the Dublin area.

Pensioners’ Committee Biennial Meeting Hyho.ie provides a range of special deals for IBOA members. Check the IBOA websites on www.iboa.ie/s/7 or www.iboa.org.uk/s/7 for details of the latest offers on holidays for destinations worldwide, as well as specialised golf trips and sports packages. For every booking made on the Hyho site or via our dedicated call centre, Hyho.ie will donate between 10% and 20% of its agency commission to a charity, school, club or community organisation of your choice at no extra cost. For any queries or quotes, contact John Gallagher directly on 01-2542075 or our call centre on 0818-332760 or FreePhone: 1800-844946.

The IBOA Pensioners’ Committee Biennial Meeting will take place on Thursday, April 4, 2013 at 2.30pm in IBOA House, Stephen Street Upper, Dublin 8. All pensioner members are most welcome to attend the meeting which will be followed by a light reception in the Irish Bankers’ Club. Nominations for the Pensioners’ Committee – duly proposed and seconded by other IBOA pensioner members – should be sent to Mr. Ken Doyle, IBOA Pensioners’ Committee, IBOA House, Stephen Street Upper, Dublin 8 to arrive no later than Friday, March 1, 2013.

november 2012

SPECTRUM

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IBOA’s Larry Broderick (left) and Sharon MacAuley (right) present a cheque for €5,000 to Cathy Kelly of Pieta House (Photo: Jane Higgins).

www.iboa.ie

Women should “play the game” that men play in order to “change the game,” but in doing so should not ape what men do, because that would not be acceptable, Linda McLoughlin, founder of Leadership Works, told a special Skillnet event organised by IBOA, Mandate and the CWU. The theme of the one-day seminar for female trade unionists was: Women’s Voices – Is the Trade Union Movement Listening? How to Grow Women’s Leadership and Solidarity. The conference heard personal – and inspirational stories – from two well known women leaders: former Circuit Court Judge, Yvonne Murphy, of the Murphy and Cloyne Commissions; and Linda Tanham, Worker Member of the Labour Court. Earlier, Linda McLoughlin observed that women have to cope with misconceptions such as “hard work gets you promoted” and “they (men) will think I am weak if I ask for help”.

IBOA THE FINANCE UNION

IBOA THE FINANCE UNION

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ou need a man and you have plenty to choose from,” a special seminar for trade union women was told last month. This is because a male sponsor with networking ability can help women project themselves and become more visible in their organisations.

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IBOA EVENT GUIDE

The  Irish Bankers’ Club IBOA House, Stephen Street Upper, Dublin 8 Telephone: 01-4758970 10am-12noon or after 5pm (Tuesday-Saturday).

CLUB openING HourS: Tuesday-Saturday: 4.30pm until late. Sunday-Monday: closed.

Still Selling

The 27th BANKERS’ CLUB DRAW

www.iboa.org.uk

The Sound of Music National Concert Hall Dublin December 27 – January 3

I•B•O •A

&

UT SOLD O

www.iboa.ie

E•V•E•N•T

Friday, December 14: Special Christmas Draw 1st Prize: One week for 2 skiing at Val Thorens, France 2nd Prize: E500 3rd-10th Prizes: Hampers, turkeys, etc.

New members welcome – Cost only E20 per annum! Features include: • Reduced room hire rates • Bar and meeting room facilities • Catering and DJ facilities • Big screen for all sporting occasions • Full bar licence – extensions available

Friday, January 25: 1st Prize: Two weeks for 2 in Tenerife 2nd Prize: E300 3rd Prize: E250 4th Prize: E200

SPECIAL PRICE FOR IBOA MEMBERS: €20

SPORTS S O IAL

Club MEMBERSHIP

For more information, please contact Michael Martin, Honorary Secretary, Irish Bankers’ Club, at the address above.

Friday, February 22: 1st Prize: Two weeks for 2 in Sicily 2nd Prize: E300 3rd Prize: E250 4th Prize: E200

DRAW RESULTS

Friday, March 29: 1st Prize: Two weeks for 2 in Las Vegas/San Francisco and New York 2nd Prize: E500 3rd Prize: E400 4th Prize: E300 5th Prize: E200

Results of recent Bankers’ Club draws are posted on the IBOA websites at: www.iboa.ie/services/sportsand social/bankersclub.html or www.iboa.org.uk/services/ sportsandsocial/bankersclub.html

IBOA THE FINANCE UNION

All draws at 9pm sharp. Bar food served 5pm-10pm. Spot prizes for those attending draw

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I•B•O •A

SPECIAL DISCOUNTS FOR MEMBERS GAIETY PRICE: €34 IBOA PRICE: €24

&

SPORTS S O IAL

E•V•E•N•T SOLD O UT spectrum

november 2012

SPECIAL PRICE FOR IBOA MEMBERS: €20

UT SOLD O

Club Bookings

SPECIAL OFFErS FOR 2013 All IBOA members, Club members and their friends or family members can book the Bankers’ Club for a party or special function for just E100 from January to April 2013: Phone Alan at 01-4758970 Book your Christmas Party at the Bankers’ Club and enjoy free room hire during December 2012. november 2012

spectrum

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The Grand Opera House Belfast

UPCOMING DRAW NIGHTS

IBOA THE FINANCE UNION

Special Price of £16 for IBOA Members for Performance on Thursday 27 December See www.iboa.ie or www.iboa.org.uk

www.iboa.org.uk

Magnificent Holidays and Magnificent Cash Prizes Still only E45 for 10 Great Draw Months See Draw Application Forms included with this issue of Spectrum

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Bank statement: Bank of Ireland Chief Executive, Richie Boucher, met a delegation from the IBOA Bank of Ireland Executive Committee recently to brief the Union team on the Bank’s recent results together with its plans for the immediate future (See Page 48).

SPECIAL FOCUS

Ulster Bank’s future: As Ulster Bank management discusses the future of the Bank with their counterparts at the Bank’s British parent, Royal Bank of Scotland, IBOA’s Ulster Bank Executive Committee is poised for further engagement (See Page 49).

IBOA NEWS

Ireland’s call: Earlier this month members of IBOA and the Communications Workers’ Union (CWU) took part in a joint Call Centre Forum to mark the UNI global union federation’s annual Call Centre Action Month. (See Page 51).

WORK AGENDA

National Irish Bank branch in College Green, Dublin.

Putting customers first?

LIFE & STYLE

ARTS & LEISURE

AIB branch in Schull, Co. Cork.

Branch closures in AIB, NIB

End of an era: National Irish Bank’s retail network has closed its doors for the last time – as the business is rebranded as Danske Bank to operate on a new remote basis connecting with customers primarily by phone and internet (See Page 53).

november 2012

All clear: IBOA members in HP’s cheque clearing department are hoping for a positive mediator’s recommendation to address a number of issues relating to pay (See Page 55).

The two banks experiencing the biggest disruption through branch closures at the present time have been AIB and National Irish Bank. AIB is in the process of closing down 69 locations in the Republic along with another five in First Trust Bank. The remaining 27 Branches in the National Irish Bank branch network closed down earlier this month to be replaced by nine regional bases under the branding of its Danish parent, Danske Bank. While both AIB and Danske have cited increased customer use of the bank’s mobile phone and online services and the availability of An Post counter facilities as contributory factors in their decisions to reduce their local branch presence, the developments were not without controversy in many areas. AIB in particular was the subject of many local protests with demonstrating customers

calling for the branches to be kept open. Meanwhile customers of National Irish Bank – interviewed by RTE News – were unanimous in their disapproval of the branch closures, with some hinting at moving their accounts to other institutions. While hundreds of staff are also expected to leave Bank of Ireland on a voluntary basis, no widescale branch closures are anticipated. Two branches are expected to merge in Cork city and another two in Limerick city by next February. Meanwhile in Ulster Bank the implementation of the major restructuring plan, agreed earlier this year, has been largely stalled for a review of operations in the wake of the catastrophic failure of the bank’s Edinburgh-based IT system. While the restructure is set to affect the Bank’s retail operations, no proposals for branch closures have yet emerged.

AIB branch in Collooney, Co. Sligo. www.iboa.org.uk

Northern exposure: As Northern Bank rebrands itself as Danske Bank, its Chief Executive Officer, Gerry Mallon, met IBOA’s Northern Bank Executive Committee recently to outline the new three-year strategy of the Danish parent bank (See Page 52).

ecent weeks have been particularly emotional for many IBOA members in all of the major financial institutions in Ireland – as they take leave of colleagues and customers due to redundancy, early retirement or redeployment to another location.

AIB branch in Dromcollogher, Co. Limerick.

AIB branch in Gweedore, Co. Donegal. november 2012

www.iboa.ie

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More tough talking at AIB: A number of key issues relating to pay, pensions, benefits and other working conditions have been referred for consideration to Kevin Foley at the Labour Relations Commission in Dublin – after protracted negotiations failed to resolve the differences between IBOA and AIB’s senior management (See Page 54).

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NEWS REVIEW

When work is a pleasure, life is joy! When work is duty, life is slavery. Maxim Gorky

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King breaks stalemate at Ulster Bank

IBOA THE FINANCE UNION

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Bank of Ireland Chief Executive, Richie Boucher (Photo: Photocall-Ireland).

Bank of Ireland CEO outlines key challenges B

ank of Ireland Chief Executive, Richie Boucher, met a delegation from the IBOA Bank of Ireland Executive Committee recently to brief the Union team on the Bank’s recent results together with its plans for the immediate future.

Pointing to the Bank’s recent return to the markets to borrow E1 billion as yet another indicator of progress along the road to recovery, Mr. Boucher reiterated the Bank’s determination both to exit the State guarantee and to end the need for the State to hold 15% of the Bank’s shares. The Bank of Ireland CEO commended the staff for their ongoing support for the repositioning of the Bank and committed to continue to engage with IBOA in line with the agreements already negotiated in order to achieve positive outcomes which would benefit customers, staff and shareholders. He re-affirmed his support for IBOA’s key objectives, namely that: • change is managed through negotiation and agreement with IBOA; • any job reductions should be achieved on a voluntary basis; and

• staff terms and conditions of employment should be protected. In reviewing some of the major challenges facing the Bank, Mr. Boucher also highlighted difficulties emerging in the Bank of Ireland pension scheme, where the deficit has recently begun to increase. Responding to these comments on the pension scheme, IBOA General Secretary, Larry Broderick, noted that the Bank’s staff had already made significant sacrifices in recent years to address earlier deficit issues. The Union leader also drew attention to the issue of remuneration and reward for staff which “needed to be addressed in the context of a changing Bank – and particularly a Bank that is moving in a positive direction arising from the support and co-operation of staff.”

Closure of Sligo Cash Centre Extensive discussions have taken place between IBOA and Bank of Ireland management on the Bank’s decision to close the Sligo Cash Centre. The Bank has honoured the Change Management Agreement with IBOA – by offering staff who wish to leave the Bank, the opportunity to do so, as well as providing appropriate training for staff who wish to remain with the Bank before they are redeployed to other areas of the business.

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The headquarters of Ulster Bank on George’s Quay, Dublin, viewed through the famine sculptures outside the International Financial Services Centre. (Photo: Sasko Lazarov/ Photocall Ireland).

RBS to clarify future of Ulster Bank subsidiary M

embers of the senior management in Ulster Bank are believed to be in substantive discussions with their counterparts at the Bank’s British parent, Royal Bank of Scotland about the future of RBS’s Irish operations. As we go to press, IBOA’s Ulster Bank Executive Committee is poised for further engagement with both Ulster Bank and RBS on the outcome of those discussions. In the meantime, the Union has continued to press Ulster Bank for clarity about the status of the Bank’s restructuring programme – known as Project TOM – under which a total of 950 staff are supposed to leave the Bank on voluntary severance terms agreed with IBOA earlier this year with the assistance of independent facilitator, Martin King. The roll-out of the restructuring process was then suspended as a result of the “IT incident” in RBS’s Edinburgh computer facility – which not only exposed a major weakness in the Bank’s technological infrastructure but also highlighted the absence of an effective contingency plan. With major inquiries under way by the regulators in both the UK and Ireland – as well as the Bank’s own internal investigation, senior management in Ulster Bank has yet to reveal what, if any, impact, these events will have on the restructuring process – especially for the Branch network which

proved to be a crucial asset in retaining customers in the aftermath of the IT incident – a contribution acknowledged by RBS Chief Executive, Stephen Hester, at a meeting with IBOA’s Ulster Bank Executive Committee in August. Indeed, the reputational damage to Ulster Bank caused by the computer meltdown has been compounded in recent weeks by two further revelations: firstly that the Bank has yet to apply tax reliefs for mortgageholders, which had been introduced in the Republic of Ireland in 2011; and secondly that it had been fined E2 million (£1.6 million) by the Republic’s Central Bank for violations relating to the management of liquidity risk and capital adequacy. Meanwhile, independent facilitator, Martin King, is considering representations by the Bank and the Union on the issues of job resizing/regrading and salary protection which were referred to him by the parties in line with his original recommendation.

In his latest recommendation, Mr. King has clearly identified that the key focus of the Bank’s restructuring programme was a significant re-organisation of the Bank involving substantial job reductions and an element of regrading. The agreement neither provided for nor intended to bring about, a reduction in general salary levels. His latest recommendation defines the circumstances where regrading would take place as involving a “significant change” in the work being required. He also builds in robust appeals mechanisms, with a commitment to exhaust procedures within forty working days. On salary protection, he reaffirms the principles of the earlier Foley Agreement which provides for full protection of the basic pay of members in alternative roles and who are redeployed to other roles. Mr King also provides greater clarity on benefit funding, Dublin allowance and other issues. Furthermore, Mr King has recommended the extension of salary protection until May, 2014, in the wake of the IT glitch, said IBOA Senior Industrial Relations Officer, Billy Barret (below). IBOA is to meet management shortly to ensure that both the recommendation and the clarification, are honoured. Meanwhile discussions continue between RBS and Ulster Bank on the future of its Irish operations.

november 2012

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he intervention of the independent mediator, Martin King, to clarify the implementation of Ulster Bank’s restructuring programme is welcome.

www.iboa.ie

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Voluntary exits under way at Bank of Ireland Bank of Ireland is continuing to process applications from staff for voluntary departures with a view to advising staff as soon as possible about the outcome of their requests, in line with the Change Management agreement negotiated earlier this year with IBOA. As soon as this initial round of departures – through redundancy and early leaving – has been completed, IBOA wants the Bank to provide a complete analysis of the number of staff who have opted to depart – broken down by business unit and by region. “This will enable us to engage in detailed discussions on the appropriate staffing levels for the future – especially in terms of the new branch model,” said IBOA Senior Industrial Relations Officer, Gerry Hanna (below). While other banks have either undertaken – or are planning – significant branch closures in recent months, Bank of Ireland management has given a commitment to the Union that it will seek to maintain its retail network largely at its current strength The only changes in branch structures indicated so far relate to the merger of two city centre branches in Cork and another two branches in the centre of Limerick. These changes are expected to be completed by February.

ARTS & LEISURE

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E

arlier this month members of IBOA and the Communications Workers’ Union (CWU) took part in a joint Call Centre Forum to mark the UNI global union federation’s annual Call Centre Action Month.

Respect at work is vital

Performance management in call centres under scrutiny adequate time to perform required duties were identified as crucial features. The information gathered on the day will be used to direct the Union’s campaigning into the future. IBOA will continue to engage with their members to address the challenges faced by call centre workers and will work to change the landscape for the better. Details of IBOA’s Customer Service Initiative are available to members at www.iboa.ie/my/currentcampaigns

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IBOA THE FINANCE UNION

IBOA THE FINANCE UNION

www.iboa.ie

In some cases, these tools can cause difficulties for employees where unattainable targets and poorly communicated processes cause considerable stress with negative consequences for workers’ health. The forum then reflected on what constituted best practice in performance management. Participants were asked to consider how performance management could be developed or enhanced. The group concluded that fairness was central to a positive performance management structure. Agreed and achievable targets, clear procedures and

www.iboa.ie

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Both unions believe that everyone is entitled to work in an environment where employees are treated, as professionals, with dignity and respect. Numerous studies have shown that workers who enjoy more control over their work not only achieve greater job satis- faction – but also greater productivity. After a general discussion on how performance management operates in their own workplaces, the participants noted a range of variations in management styles. Nevertheless they also identified a number of common elements in the use of performance management tools.

Call centre workers – members of IBOA and CWU – share common experiences in a session facilitated by IBOA Training Officer, Marian Geoghegan.

www.iboa.org.uk

The theme of this year’s event was ‘Performance management – from the bottom up’ – which was chosen to reflect the fact that this aspect of phone-based working has long been recognised as a challenge for workers in the contact centre industry. Participants included staff from call centres as diverse as AIB, eircom, Bank of Ireland, First Source, Ulster Bank and ATOS. The aim of the forum was to enable call centre workers to discuss the effects of performance management on their daily work in order to identify issues of concern and possible solutions.

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Saturday Rota Northern Bank management has confirmed to IBOA that the Saturday rota is to be managed in a more transparent and fair manner following changes to the computer software used to administer it. The Union will continue to monitor the situation.

Danske/National Irish Bank Nine ‘Advisory’ Centres

Uniforms

Bank CEO cannot rule out more branch closures during meeting with IBOA Executive Committee

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s Northern Bank is rebranded as Danske Bank, its Chief Executive Officer, Gerry Mallon, met IBOA’s Northern Bank Executive Committee recently to outline the new three-year strategy of the Danish parent bank.

While no specific plans are in place for applying Danske Bank’s New Standards strategy to Northern Ireland, Mr. Mallon pointed out that many of the elements of the Danske strategy had alread been anticipated in Northern Bank’s “Northern Star” restructuring programme.

But with all of the Bank’s objectives under Northern Star met, Mr. Mallon reflected that the Bank has recently begun to recruit new staff. Emphasising the need for the Bank to regain the trust of its customers and investors, he said this would best be achieved by setting new standards for advisory services and solutions, transparency of charges, growing financial strength, and improving relationships with customers and the wider society. The Chief Executive also told the IBOA Executive Committee that the Bank would continue to manage change by engaging with IBOA and in line with established agreements.

IBOA THE FINANCE UNION

New Danske Bank branding unveiled in Donegall Square, Belfast

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End of an era at National Irish

From cashless branches to no branches at all – as NIB re-emerges under Danske Bank brand

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he remaining branches in National Irish Bank’s retail network have closed their doors for the last time – as the business is rebranded as Danske Bank operating on a new remote basis connecting with customers primarily by phone and internet and with nine ‘advisory’ centres available by appointment for face-to-face meetings. Following protracted talks between IBOA and the Bank’s senior management – facilitated by independent mediator, Martin King – voluntary parting terms were agreed between the parties and subsequently ratified in a ballot of Union members.

TERMS

Staff aged under 50 at their date of leaving are to receive a lump sum payment of 5 weeks’ pay for each year of service (inclusive of statutory redundancy entitlements) – subject to an overall cap of 130 weeks’ pay; and a minimum payment of E8,000. Staff aged between 50 and 55 at their date of leaving may opt to take an immediate pension based on the accrued benefit at their date of leaving, but with an actuarial reduction

based on the rules of the pension scheme, together with a lump sum payment of 5 weeks’ pay for each year of service (inclusive of statutory redundancy entitlements) – subject to a maximum payment of 130 weeks’ pay. Staff aged over 55 at their date of leaving are to receive an immediate (non-reduced) pension based on the accrued benefit at their date of leaving – with no lump sum severance payment. Having fully exhausted the negotiating process, IBOA’s talks team – led by Senior Industrial Relations Officer, Gerry Hanna – had recommended acceptance of the terms – which will remain in force until the end of 2013 and will be used for any further restructuring in National Irish Bank during that period.

In the event the voluntary severance package was oversubscribed. But management agreed to accept all applications – with the surplus work being redirected to Northern Ireland. Retail staff who have opted to remain with the Bank are being trained – as necessary – for redeployment to new roles. Management has also agreed that staff will not have to serve a probationary period unless they are promoted as part of this restructuring. While the Bank engages in a major publicity campaign to raise awareness of its new Danske identity, IBOA and its members are preparing for renewed engagement with management on the review of Head Office operations scheduled for 2013 – as well as the much wider issue of the proposed integration of structures with Northern Bank into a single Danske Bank entity. These two developments are likely to have far-reaching implications for staff in both Northern Ireland and the Republic. november 2012

SPECTRUM spectrum

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In response to members’ concerns about the confidentiality of responses to the Bank’s Employee Opinion Survey, management has confirmed that no changes have been made to process by which the results are provided to the Bank. So if less than five staff in a particular business area complete the survey, no report will be generated.

What next for Northern?

Signs of the times at National Irish Bank as posters advertise the closure of the branch and promote electronic banking as the “new normal” (Photo: Séamas Sheils).

www.iboa.ie

Employee Opinion Survey

Northern Bank’s Chief Executive Officer, Gerry Mallon, formally welcomes the Bank’s recent rebranding as Danske Bank

Athlone Cork Dublin (Airton Road) Dublin (IFSC) Dublin (Stillorgan) Dublin (Swords) Letterkenny Limerick Waterford

IBOA THE FINANCE UNION

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IBOA has been assured by Northern Bank management that there will be no reduction in the overall level of garments provided to key-time frontline staff.

• • • • • • • • •

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‘Part-Cash’ Branches in Bank of Ireland

More tough talking ahead at AIB

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estrictions on the withdrawal of cash by customers are to be introduced in 41 smaller Bank of Ireland branches – following the analysis of a pilot project which has been running in three small branches in recent months.

All clear?

Former EDS staff hope for breakthrough at HP

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number of key issues have been referred for consideration to Kevin Foley at the Labour Relations Commission in Dublin – after protracted negotiations failed to resolve the differences between IBOA and AIB’s senior management.

Expressing disappointment that little progress was made in direct negotiation with management, IBOA General Secretary, Larry Broderick, said that the gulf between the parties had proven to be insurmountable in the bilateral talks. So an independent mediator had been sought to try to broker a deal. Among the key issues still to be resolved is the Bank’s proposal to close the Defined Benefit scheme for future accrual and replace it with a Defined Contribution scheme. The Union has argued that a Defined Benefit scheme should be retained for staff currently covered by a Defined Benefit scheme and that the existing Defined Contribution scheme should remain unchanged for members in the UK. As well as challenging AIB’s insistence that staff pay remain frozen until 2014, IBOA has

also urged the Bank to review its position on contractual pay in the light of the outcome of the legal cases involving IBOA members in First Trust Bank and AIB (GB). While the Bank has argued that it cannot afford to honour these contractual entitlements, the Union has highlighted the recent statement by the Republic’s Minister for Finance which indicated that the contractual rights of senior executives were inviolable.

Other issues

IBOA also has concerns on a range of other issues including: • the Bank’s new performance management proposals; • the increased workloads for remaining staff in the wake of the voluntary reduction in staffing levels; • the need for an agreement on redeployment, transferability and secondment • lack of access to all promotional opportunities being advertised in the Bank; • the need for an overarching agreement on outsourcing; • the removal of benefits; and • management proposals for new grievance and disciplinary procedures.

The mediator, Liam Doherty, is reviewing submissions from HP management and the Union – with a particular focus on the application of the existing pay matrix which, the Union, argues is contractual. These members were originally employed by Ulster Bank but were transferred – with no detriment to their terms and conditions of employment – when this operation was acquired by EDS a number of years ago. Following the merger of EDS into HP, these members were caught up in a general pay freeze, even though their pay matrix was specified in their contract. When HP management failed to apply its terms, the issue was referred to the independent mediator for consideration.

www.iboa.org.uk

Labour Relations Commission to consider range of issues still outstanding

s we go to press, IBOA members in HP’s cheque clearing department are hoping for a positive recommendation from an independent mediator to address a number of issues relating to pay and the Union’s role in representing members in future.

www.iboa.ie

Over 100 IBOA activists from the AIB Group met in Dublin recently to review recent developments – including the ongoing negotiations between the Union and senior management on a number of significant issues. IBOA General Secretary, Larry Broderick, provided an overview of the talks process – highlighting the many issues still to be addressed by the mediator as well as some of the other matters still to be resolved with management. The meeting was also addressed by AIB Group CEO, David Duffy, who outlined the key challenges to be met to restore the Bank to health. Noting that as CEO, he has to deal with the Department of Finance, the Troika and IBOA, he said that, even though he might not see eye to eye with each group on every issue, he respected them nevertheless. He was, therefore, committed to continue to engage with IBOA. The AIB boss also took part in a robust question-andanswer session with delegates.

IBOA activists from all three AIB Group jurisdictions met in Dublin recently for a comprehensive update on recent talks between the Union’s negotiatorsandsenior management (Photo: Gareth Murphy).

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Great savings and offers for IBOA members in Great Britain and Northern Ireland from Thomas Cook – including a 6% discount on thousands of holidays. Check the My IBOA sections of the IBOA websites for more information. november 2012

SPECTRUM

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Activists meet to review latest developments

In future customers will no longer be allowed to withdraw cash on Tuesdays and Thursdays each week in these smaller branches. IBOA’s Bank of Ireland Executive Committee has monitored the project closely – especially on the basis of the experience of staff in the pilot branches. The Union has concluded that, even though this new working arrangement resulted in some minor inconvenience to customers, there appear to have been no significant issues for staff.

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Yes, I WAS Sitting off my feet!

Jeans to die for: New research shows that lethal sandblasting is still used to produce some high street fashions. See Page 58.

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november 2012

• Prize Crossword • Picture Board • Sudoku See Pages 62-3.

Beware of the clot!

Y

oung office workers are doubling their risk of a potentially life-threatening blood clot because they sit working for three hours at a time, eat lunch at their desks and then go home and sit on the sofa.

Obesity, diabetes and heart disease are all linked to an unhealthy lifestyle but sitting for long periods can also increase the immediate risk to health from blood clots, says the British thrombosis charity, Lifeblood. Deep vein thrombosis – often known as “economy class syndrome” because of its association with cramped long-haul flights – can affect anyone who remain seated for prolonged periods without getting up to move around. A survey of 1,000 people aged under 30, found that young desk-bound workers sat still for three and three-quarter hours on an average, with many

also eating lunch at their desk – instead of taking the opportunity to walk around, which would reduce their risk of a clot. Furthermore, eight out of ten of the young employees surveyed spent their evenings at home – mainly sitting on their sofa. After sitting for 90 minutes the blood flow at the back of the knee drops by half and this increases the chances of developing a blood clot two fold, said the charity. Dr. Richard Beasley of the Medical Research Institute in New Zealand, said: “People know that a sedentary lifestyle increases the risk of obesity, diabetes and cardio-vascular disease in later life. “However, very few are aware of the fact that prolonged immobility in the workplace also poses an immediate threat, more than doubling the risk of developing a potentially fatal blood clot.

Dr. Beverley Hunt

DVT explained Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) is caused by a blood clot, that forms in a deep vein, most commonly in the leg or pelvis. • It may result in no symptoms at all or cause swelling, redness and pain. • But if a clot becomes dislodged and passes through the blood vessels, it can reach the lungs where it can cause severe coughing, chest pain and breathlessness and may prove fatal.

“It is vital that this potential risk is recognised in both the office and at home. People must be educated regarding the risks associated with sitting down for long periods and offered strategies to change their work practices.” The Medical Director of Lifeblood, Professor Beverley Hunt, added: “Our research has uncovered a ticking time-bomb with some nine million office workers and countless young gamers putting themselves at risk of a potentially fatal blood clot. “The human body is designed for the ‘caveman’ lifestyle; active, agile and constantly mobile. “Instead we have become increasingly sedentary, obstructing the body’s ability to function as it should,” she said. “It is imperative that we take heed of these early warning signs, and take regular breaks, be it at your desk or in front of a video game.”

november 2012

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stylewise When a man is wrapped up in himself, he makes a pretty little package. John Ruskin

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Stop the net grab: The International Trade Union Confederation has launched a global campaign to resist further restrictions on public access to the internet. An unfettered internet, free of political control and available to everyone could be relegated to cyber-history under a contentious proposal by a little known United Nations body. See Page 60.

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Baby Boozers

Sandblasting “doesn’t occur” – but not banned outright

Gucci H&M Just Group (Australia) Levi-Strauss & Co (Levi’s, Dockers, Signature, Denizen) New Yorker Mango Metro New Look Pepe Jeans Primark Replay Versace

Adolfo Dominquez IC Companies (Peak Performance, Tiger of Sweden, InWear, Jackpot, Cottonfield, Matinique, Part Two, By Malene Birger, Saint Tropez, Soaked in Luxury, Designers Remix, Companys, Picturebank) Holy Fashion Group (Strellson, Joop!, Tommy Hilfiger, Tailored, Windsor) Prada Roberto Cavalli Street One VF Corporation (Lee, Wrangler)

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omen who drink even moderate amounts of alcohol while pregnant may risk lowering the child’s intelligence levels, according to a new study by British scientists.

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These new findings contradict previous advice to pregnant women which suggested that the occasional alcoholic drink may be safe. Described as “hugely important” by one expert, the study, which analysed genetic data from over 4,000 mothers and children, found that drinking between one and six units of alcohol a week during pregnancy can lead to lower IQ scores by the time a child is eight. “Even at levels of alcohol consumption which are normally considered to be harmless, we can detect differences in childhood IQ which are dependent on the ability of the foetus to clear this alcohol,” said Sarah Lewis of Bristol University. “This is evidence that even at these moderate levels, alcohol is influencing foetal brain development.” Most previous studies have used observational evidence, but experts say this can be misleading because, for example, mothers who drink in moderation while pregnant are typically also well educated, have good diets and are unlikely to smoke—all factors linked to higher IQ in children and which could mask any negative effects of alcohol. spectrum

Jeans to die for

New research shows that lethal sandblasting is still used to produce some high street fashions

M

ajor jeans brands are under pressure in the wake of recent research findings that show that Bangladeshi garment workers continue to be exposed to deadly lung diseases while producing faded jeans for European consumers.

The report, Deadly Denim, produced by the Clean Clothes Campaign (CCC), found that large factories exporting jeans overseas continue to use a sandblasting process to give new jeans a distressed or weathered look.

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Publicly banned sandblasting of jeans Armani Benetton Bestseller (Collectors Item, Jack&Jones, MamaLicious, Name it, Object, Only, Outfitters Nation, Pieces, Selected Vero Moda) Burberry C&A Carrera Jeans Charles Vögele Esprit

Even moderate drinking during pregnancy may affect child’s IQ

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After the process was proved to cause fatal lung diseases, including silicosis, among workers, the CCC persuaded a number of leading brands to declare their opposition to the use of sandblasted denim. While a number of major brands have now publicly declared that they will not use sandblasted denim to manufacture their jeans, the response from others have been rather less clear. One group – including the VF Corporation which produces Lee and Wrangler jeans – say that sandblasting is not used to produce their designs – but have still not come out publicly in favour of a ban. Another group – including Diesel and Inditex, the company supplying jeans to a number of major stores like Zara, Bershka and Pull and Bear – have also refused to support the ban while claiming they intend to withhold orders for any more sandblasted products soon. Perhaps when the current trend runs its course? Finally, of course, there is one company that has refused to support the ban or indicate its intention to restrict its use of sandblasted denim in any sense – Dolce and Gabbana. But Deadly Denim reveals that, regardless of whether a brand has ‘banned’ sandblasting or not, sandblasting – both manual and mechanical – is still commonly used.

One factory owner stated that it was impossible to produce some of the designs demanded by major brands without the use of sandblasting. Indeed some workers told researchers that they have been ordered to switch to sandblasting – even when a buyer has said it is not be used – if they are running up against production deadlines. Others have stated that production of garments using sandblasting was often carried out at night to avoid detection by inspectors and auditors. Many workers, interviewed in the report, complained of constant coughing and breathing difficulties. Working with old machinery, they were forced to work up to twelve hours a day in dusty, poorly ventilated rooms, without adequate health and safety protection. Most of those interviewed reported that their colleagues who had fallen ill. Deadly Denim also highlights the lack of medical care provided to workers – including the difficulty in securing adequate diagnosis and treatment – in part because of the low awareness of the issue among medical professionals. “It is shocking that almost a decade after a silicosis epidemic among garment workers was highlighted by doctors in Turkey, garment workers are still being asked to risk their lives for fashion,” said Dominique Muller

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Intend to end orders for sandblasted jeans – but not banned outright Diesel Inditex (Zara, Bershka, Massimo Dutti, Pull & Bear) Orsay S. Oliver

Refuse to ban sandblasting or fail to provide information Dolce & Gabbana

For more information, you can contact the Clean Clothes Campaign at Postbus 11584, 1001 GN Amsterdam, Netherlands. Phone: 003120-412-27-85 or email: info@ cleanclothes.org or web: www.cleanclothes.org or Clean Clothes Campaign Ireland at 4 Hatch St, Lr, Dublin 2. Phone: 0(0-353)1-6618 375 or email: icontact@cleanclothes campaignireland.org

of the CCC. “Brands and retailers must do more to put an end to sandblasting.” The CCC and its partners have called on brands to take more action to end all forms of sand-blasting. This should include withdrawing business from any unit which carries out either manual or mechanical sandblasting production, making changes to the design of the jeans and working with local unions and workers’ organisations to police the ban. The CCC also wants national governments to ban the process and for the EU to introduce a ban on sandblasted imports. The campaign has also urged the World Health Organisation and the International Labour Organisation to include the garment manufacturing sector in their work on the elimination of silicosis – with a specific national programme to be introduced in Bangladesh.

“The denim may be distressed – but not nearly as distressed as the workers who are forced to produce it!” november 2012

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Stop the net grab ITUC launches global campaign A

n unfettered internet, free of political control and available to everyone could be relegated to cyber-history under a contentious proposal by a little known United Nations body. The battle for the internet could change the way we access information. By Paola Totaro

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ITUC General Secretary, Sharan Burrow “Unless we act now, our right to freely communicate and share information could change forever. “A group of big telecommunications corporations have joined with countries including China, Egypt and Saudi Arabia that already impose heavy restriction on internet freedoms,” she said. “So far, the proposal has flown under the radar but its implications are extremely serious. “Governments – and big companies the world over – may end up with the right not only to restrict the internet and monitor everything you do online but to charge users for services such as email and Skype.”

Change for a digital age?

A draft of the new regulations, formulated in secret and only recently posted on the ITU website for public perusal, reveals that far from being innocuous updates to keep pace with technological change, the new proposals could legitimise widespread State and political intervention under the guise of national and international security.

The International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) is the main international trade union organisation Its primary mission is the promotion and defence of workers’ rights and interests, through international co-operation between trade unions, global campaigning and advocacy within the major global institutions.

The Proposed Changes If accepted, the proposed changes would: • Allow governments to restrict or block information disseminated via the internet • Allow governments to shut down the internet if there is the belief that it may interfere in the internal affairs of other States or that information of a ‘sensitive nature’ might be shared

• Permit a global regime of monitoring internet communications, including a requirement that those who send and receive information should identify themselves • Require that the internet only be used in a ‘rational’ way To sign the petition to stop the ‘net grab’ visit: www.change. org/netgrab

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However, in an unprecedented show of unity, civil rights groups, big communications corporations and trade unions met in London recently to launch a global campaign and petition titled ‘Stop the Net Grab’. Led by the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC), it will appeal to the UN and the ITU itself to immediately open the plan for global debate and demand a delay of any decision until all stakeholders – not just governments – are given a voice. According to the ITUC’s General Secretary, Sharan Burrow, urgent global action is needed as the “internet as we know it” comes under very real threat. Ú

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Telecommunications ministers from 193 countries will meet behind closed doors in Dubai in December to debate plans to hand control over the internet to the UN’s International Telecommunications Union (ITU). The move has sparked a ferocious, under-the-radar diplomatic war between a powerful bloc of nations, led by China, who want to exert greater control on the net – and democracies determined to preserve the freewheeling, open architecture of the World Wide Web. The battle for control has also seen a cartel of telecommunications corporations join forces to support the changes, arguing for amended pricing regulations which critics warn will pave the way for significant increases in the cost of day-to-day internet use, including email and social media.

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Previous solution Across: 1. Singapore; 6. Sling; 9. Amigo; 10. Esperanto; 11. Rehearsing; 12. Scar; 14. Acolyte; 15. Start Up; 17. Barista; 19. Odyssey; 20. Tutu; 22. Indelicate; 25. Appraisal; 26. Dread; 27. Excel; 28. Aspirated. Down: 1. Starr; 2. Neighbour; 3. Apocalypse; 4. Oversee; 5. Expends; 6. Sort; 7. Ionic; 8. Geography; 13. Babyminder; 14. Arbitrate; 16. Testament; 18. Amnesia; 19. Overlap; 21. Topic; 23. Ended; 24. Mail. The winning entry for the prize crossword competition in the last issue was submitted by Raymond Gash of Letterkenny, Co. Donegal.

Branch/Dept………………………………………………… A prize of E50 will be given to the sender of the first correct entry drawn from our post bag on January 1, 2013. Entries should be sent to Crossword, Spectrum, IBOA – The Finance Union, IBOA House, Stephen Street Upper, Dublin 8. A photocopy of the grid is acceptable if you prefer not to cut up the magazine.

Use the first letter of the surnames of each of the celebrities pictured to spell out the surname of a veteran pop star. Answers on a post card, please, with your name, address and e-mail address and IBOA membership number to Picture Board, Spectrum, IBOA House, Stephen Street Upper, Dublin 8. A prize of E30 will be awarded to the sender of the first correct entry drawn from our post bag on January 1, 2013. The winner of the last Picture Board quiz was Lorraine O’Kane of Dungiven, Co. Derry. The answer was Rihanna.

WIN E30 A prize of E30 will be awarded to the sender of the first correct entry drawn from our post bag on January 1, 2013. All entries should be sent to Sudoku, Spectrum, IBOA – The Finance Union, IBOA House, Stephen Street Upper, Dublin 8. You can submit your entry on a photo­­copy of the grid – if you would prefer not to cut up the magazine. The winning entry for the Sudoku Challenge in the last issue was submitted by Áine Larkin of Limerick City.

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Psycho-illogical: The latest black comedy from Martin ‘In Bruges’ McDonagh will escape into cinemas in December. See Page 67.

Paul Howard with some of the cast of Anglo The Musical whose resemblance to real humans is entirely coincidental (Photo: Leon Farrell, Photocall-Ireland).

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10% discount for IBOA members on all products (excluding medicines and prescriptions) at Hickey’s Pharmacies in Arklow, Cork, Drogheda, Dublin,* Dundalk, Gorey, May­nooth, Navan and Newbridge * Coolock, Crumlin, Finglas, Grafton Street, Harold’s Cross, Henry Street, O’Connell Street, Ongar, Phibsboro, Santry, Tallaght, Terenure and Tyrrels­town.

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The Great Recession is more than four years old. Yet, as Paul Krugman points out in this powerful polemic: “Nations rich in resources, talent, and knowledge – all the ingredients for prosperity and a decent standard of living for all – remain in a state of intense pain.” How did we get stuck in what now can only be called a depression? And above all, how do we free ourselves? The Nobel prize-winning economist pursues these issues with his characteristic insight and humour in this timely study. He has a powerful message for anyone who has suffered over these past four years – a quick, strong recovery is just one step away, if our leaders can find the “intellectual clarity and political will” to end this depression now.

Since Frank O’Dea’s piece, Anglo Even though for the most part its own The charging of three former Anglo art collection proved – like its shares – executives, led by Seán Fitzpatrick, Irish Bank has provided the spark for a ultimately to “have no value,” Anglo promises a certain amount of courtnumber of other creations. Irish Bank has, nevertheless, provided a room theatrics in 2013. But Johnny Performance Art rich vein of inspiration for a number of Morrison, the brains behind Dustin the Galway property developer, Joe McNamara, creative artists. Turkey, and Paul Howard, the brains engaged in a form of performance art One of the earliest to see the symbefore Ross O’Carroll Kelly, jumped when he drove a concrete mixer truck bolic potential of the Bank built on the gun earlier this month with their – bearing the slogan ‘Anglo Toxic Bank’ sand was Frank O’Dea, the artist who theatrical show, Anglo The Musical. into the gates of Leinster House in Dublin. launched a public appeal for worthless Billed as “a story about love, ambiAt least the court must have thought Anglo share certificates to be incorpotion, greed, corruption, economic meltso because he was found not guilty of rated into a piece of art – ‘The Anglo down and copious amounts of decking criminal damage or dangerous driving. Irish Bank Shareholder’ – depicting a and pesto,” Anglo The Musical, (or ATM More recently, a group of artists forlorn investor slumped at the bar with for short) re-imagines the rise and fall produced a series of “guerilla” painthis share certificates spread before him. of the Celtic Tiger as a love story beings for the hoardings of the unfinished Investors who donated shares each tween a pure and innocent young girl skeletal structure of what was to have received a free print of the artwork – and her shady suitor on the mythical been the new headquarters of Anglo on which was sold in a limited edition of 35 island of Inis Dull. Dublin’s North Quay. prints for E19.71. With prints subse With the key protagonists, played quently changing hands for over E200 by larger than life Avenue Q style – an increase in value of over 1000% puppets, the production echoes the – the print has comfortably outpersurreal madness of the boom in songs formed the original shares which were like “Put a Zero on the End – He’s My worth E17.60 at peak in 2007 when Friend.” Anglo was named by consultants, Not so much a piece of theatre as Oliver Wyman, as the “Best Bank in a therapeutic exorcism of the national the World” before falling 98% in value psyche, ATM can be seen as a further to finish at E0.32 in December, 2008 opportunity to “rage against the when the Bank was nationalised. machine.” With due process looking (By the way these are the same more like long overdue process to many consultants who were recently compeople, the idea of turning those missioned to carry out an independent responsible into a laughing stock seems assessment of the Spanish banking Artist, Frank O’Dea, with some of the worthless to be the next best thing to putting Anglo shares that didn’t make it into the picture. them in the stocks. system by the Rajoy Government.) november 2012

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Failed bank continues to inspire creative artists

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the bank that launched a thousand scripts!

Return to Middle Earth: Martin Freeman stars as Bilbo Baggins in the first instalment of Peter Jackson’s three-part treatment of J. R. R. Tolkein’s The Hobbit – which is due for release in December. See Page 67.

From the sublime to the ridiculous: George Hamilton refelcts on some of the highs and lows of a memorable sporting year (See Pages 68-69).

Art is a lie that tells the truth. Pablo Picasso

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Anglo

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lthough he is probably still better known as an award-winning playwright (with The Beauty Queen of Leenane garnering four Tony awards on Broadway in 1998), Martin McDonagh has already begun to build a solid reputation as a filmmaker as the creator of In Bruges and of the Oscarwinning short, Six Shooter.

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In his latest film, Seven Psychopaths, McDonagh teams up with some earlier acting acquaintances – Colin Farrell from In Bruges, and Christopher Walken and Sam Rockwell from his stage play, A Behanding in Spokane. They are joined by the equally impressive, Woody Harrelson and singer, Tom Waits, in this parody of the action movie genre – born out of genuine affection rather than derision. But typical of a McDonagh creation on stage or screen, Seven Psychopaths combines extreme violence with a vivid sense of the absurd. It is not clear how closely the plot was inspired by McDonagh’s

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Martin McDonagh

Seven Psychopaths Written and directed by Martin McDonagh, the strong ensemble cast includes: Colin Farrell Christopher Walken Woody Harrelson Sam Rockwell Abbie Cornish Tom Waits Olga Kurylenko Zeljko Ivanek

direct life experience – but Colin Farrell plays a screenwriter named Marty with a tendency to drink too much – a trait which, it is claimed, is the inevitable result of being both a writer and Irish. Rockwell plays his friend, Billy, an unemployed actor who continually proffers unwanted ideas for the script. Walken is Billy’s friend, Hans, who makes a living by stealing dogs and collecting the rewards offered for their return. Unfortunately one of these dogs belongs to a very unstable and violent gangster, played by Woody Harrelson. Another psychopath appears in the form of a vigilante on a mission to eliminate criminals. The other psychopaths emerge as Billy tries to help Marty with storylines for his film script by putting an ad in the paper for former or current psychopaths to supply story ideas. Seven Psychopaths is a darkly funny film – but with moments of surprising pathos. It may not be the best film of the year – but it is a very entertaining way to pass a couple of hours.

Dollhouse Dollhouse, the acclaimed new film from Irish director, Kirsten Sheridan, finally goes on release in December. The film explores a night in the life of a group of adolescents from Dublin’s inner city who break into a house in an upper class suburb. The break-in quickly moves into a night of frenzy, driven by a series of indelible revelations. Adopting a new approach to the process, Sheridan worked “without a screenplay, utilising genuine reaction techniques where the actors experience the story in the same way as their fictional character, not knowing the plot until the moment of reveal on camera.” “Everything that happens, happens instinctually, physically and in the present,” she says. Dollhouse received special praise this year from the Berlin Film Festival jury for “its innovative approach, the atmosphere it creates, and the way it grips the audience throughout.”

november 2012

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Colin Farrell, Christopher Walken and Sam Rockwell in Martin McDonagh’s Seven Psychopaths.

Peter Jackson returns to Middle Earth for Tolkein’s prequel to the epic Lord of the Rings trilogy with a Hobbit trilogy – which begins with An Unexpected Journey. The back story of Frodo’s uncle, Bilbo (Martin Freeman), centres on a quest to reclaim the lost Dwarf Kingdom of Erebor, now in thrall to the dragon, Smaug. At the request of Gandalf (Ian McKellen), Bilbo joins a company of thirteen dwarves – led by the warrior, Thorin Oakenshield (Richard Armitage). On this journey, Bilbo first encounters the creature that will change his life forever – Gollum (Andy Serkis) – and his “precious” gold ring.

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s we head for Christmas, paraphrasing Sixteen Tons, Hank Thompson’s classic Country song – another year older, and deeper in debt – there’s a great deal to be said for the redemptive power of sport. All human life is here, and haven’t we seen it all in 2012! It can be hard to know whether to laugh or cry.

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Katie Taylor. Now there’s a name that accentuates the positive. Virtually single-handedly – or should that be two-fistedly – she created for her sport a profile and a presence that demanded its inclusion in the Olympics Games. And profound pressure for herself. She duly delivered, adding the Women’s Lightweight Boxing gold medal to the World and European titles she already held. The highlight of the sporting year. But then you mention European titles, and your mind lurches in another direction, towards Poland, and the ignominy of the Republic of Ireland’s exit from Euro 2012. Can we leave that for a moment? The memory of a most glorious summer in London is still vivid. The great success the city made of hosting the Games. The cast of international stars, the many successes the hosts could celebrate, the way the crowds roared on the Irish athletes as if they were their own. After Cian O’Connor’s bronze in the equestrian arena, Irish boxers did what they’ve always done and racked up the reasons to be cheerful. Paddy Barnes and Michael Conlan, then John Joe Nevin followed Katie on to the podium. And scarcely had the parade of open-topped buses passed the cheering crowds beside familiar landmarks back home, than another squad was delivering delight across the London venues. At the Paralympics, eight golds, three silvers, and five bronze medals represented the most significant return since Seoul in 1988. Michael McKillop and Jason Smyth broke world records retaining titles. Catherine Walsh, with her pilot Francine Meehan, became the first Irish cyclist to win a medal there. SPECTRUM spectrum

From the sublime… Katie Taylor celebrates her Olympic boxing gold medal at the ExCel Arena in London (Photo: Inpho/ Morgan Treacy).

by George Hamilton

It may be a while before we’re welcoming back the Irish rugby team with medals, but at least they ended the year on a positive note. Not that we’d any right to expect it. Declan Kidney’s contract had been extended before the World Cup in the autumn of last year. His team got as far as the quarter-finals, then went out. The Six Nations could hardly have been more chalk and cheese. Lose the opening match narrowly at home to Wales, who would go on to clinch the Grand Slam. Beat Italy 42-10, the biggest championship win over that opposition since their debut year in 2000. Draw in France, win at home to Scotland. Happy days? They were, for what followed was an altogether depressing conclusion – a 9-30 hammering at Twickenham that confirmed mid-table anonymity.

New Zealand was probably not the ideal destination for the end-of-season tour. Two big defeats bookended a huge performance that would have earned a draw but for a late drop goal from Dan Carter. But looked at in the round, the Second Test was the sunny day in an Irish summer, the certainty you knew would arrive, you just didn’t know when. Nothing that went before, or has happened since, bestowed upon it the notion that this would be the new norm. Ireland arrived at the Aviva for the recent Test with Argentina in the knowledge that their status as second seeds in the World Cup was on the line. Argentina, above them in the rankings, and Ireland a team that could scarcely score a try to save itself. They’d managed two in New Zealand, Fergus McFadden and

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november november 2012 2012

…to the ridiculous! Conor Murray securing the only five-pointers in the last five Tests. Happily, all ended well on the final Saturday in November. Ireland’s second tier status was secured. 46-24 was their biggest win over Argentina – and they scored seven tries, which is, quite simply, unheard of against a team higher up the rankings. Not only that, but a star was born. Craig Gilroy, just 21, was winning his first cap. His success against Argentina, plus that of Munster’s wing Simon Zebo at full back, who also claimed a first Test try, was the absolute vindication of a coach under pressure who played a bold hand rather than opting for caution. Which brings us back to Euro 2012 and the sorry performance of the Republic of Ireland of Giovanni Trapattoni, another coach rewarded with a new contract before a major event.

His team selections had been marked by a reluctance to try new talent, even when the cause was lost, and sights were steered towards challenges new. Down there, dreadful, Trapattoni’s team’s three defeats, with one goal scored and nine conceded, was as bad as had ever been at this UEFA championship since it took its present form in 1980. It surely couldn’t get any worse for Trapattoni’s Ireland. But it did. The 6-1 defeat by Germany in October was historically bad. Where the rugby boys would rewrite their own record books with those seven tries, the Republic of Ireland hit a new low. Never had six goals been conceded at home before. Never ever! What was equally notable was that this humiliation completed a sequence of competitive results – one win and four

Ireland’s James McCarthy dejected after the third of Germany’s six goals in the World Cup Qualifier at the Aviva Stadium in Ocober (Photo: Inpho/James Crombie).

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defeats – that exactly mirrored the conclusion of Jack Charlton’s decade in charge. The most successful manager the FAI has ever had departed after his team failed to qualify for Euro 96, losing to Holland in a play-off at Anfield. Trapattoni’s position was rather different for, in the way of the fixture calendar these days, he found himself having to handle the German embarrassment while preparing for another match within a matter of days. He was never going to leave in those circumstances. But there followed an episode, as Byzantine as it was bizarre. The front page headlines that followed the squad to the Faroes suggested the manager’s time was up. Conclusions were drawn as he finalised his preparations. Maintaining the serenity of a sphinx, Trapattoni avoided radical change. Marc Wilson came in at left back. Robbie Brady got a run on the wing. The captain Robbie Keane, who’d missed the Germany game through injury, returned. At the pre-match press conference Keane spoke passionately. The boys backed the boss. They won, 4-1. Sweden, second seeds in Trap’s team’s group, hadn’t managed that, scuffling to a late 2-1 victory in Tórshavn four days before. Nobody scored four in the Faroes. Not since France, in 2007, almost to the day. Cause and effect. If Kidney’s escape from mounting pressure was predicated on bold gesture, Trapattoni’s grew from Faroese fatalism. You’ll never beat the Irish? An article of faith in Tórshavn, for they’ve never beaten any team of consequence. Trap stays, and Sweden and Austria await. Four days in March will decide if his project – the World Cup in Brazil in 2014 – has any chance of success. Meanwhile, Kidney’s XV has repaid his faith. The Six Nations no longer looks daunting. And, yes, if we care to look elsewhere – Rory McIlroy is on top of the world. Never mind Hank Thompson. Ian Dury & The Blockheads have a better song. You remember? It’s Reasons to be Cheerful.

november november 2012 2012

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ne of Spectrum’s extensive network of foreign correspondents has informed me that four members of the so-called “PIIGS” group of economically challenged EU States – Portugal, Ireland, Greece and Spain – share the same address for their respective embassies in Tel Aviv in Israel.

Rich Ricci

Dropping names at Barclays

But don’t worry that these spendthrift diplomats will lose the run of themselves with a desire for lavish blow-outs – chockfull of canapés and Ferrero Rocher pyramids – to celebrate their bailout bounty. The other EU delegation in the building will no doubt ensure that Spartan frugality remains the diplomatic order of the day. Yes, of course, it’s Germany!

Good to see that Barclays Bank has finally appointed a chief executive with a fairly common name – plain old Antony Jenkins. His predecessor, who bowed to public pressure to resign over the Bank’s involvement in the Libor scandal, had a name straight out of central casting – Bob Diamond. But even more appropriate than the “diamond geezer” is the head of Barclays investment banking division – the sublimely named Rich Ricci (pronounced Richy) – not to be confused with Ri¢hie Ri¢h, the movie with child star, Macauley Culkin. spectrum

november 2012

Independent booksellers in the UK and Ireland have launched a counter-offensive against online retail giant Amazon since the appearance of executives from Amazon, Starbucks and Google at the Public Finance Committee in Westminster recently to discuss allegations that hundreds of millions of pounds of profit have been has diverted to tax havens. While the Booksellers’ Association has acknowledged that Amazon’s tax affairs are not illegal, they point out that the company is being investigated for allegedly failing to pay corporation tax on more than £3.3 billion worth of earnings in the UK.

coming to the bank, where we would be photographed coming in the front door, we were all to meet outside the McDonald’s in Liverpool Street where we would be picked up in a people-carrier with darkened windows and driven in through the back of the bank. “There were two problems with this.

Firstly, [BBC economics correspondent] Robert Peston had already broken the story about Northern Rock. “Secondly, there were two McDonald’s outside Liverpool Street. Half of us were outside one, and the rest of us were outside the other.”

Her bond is her word A woman asked the bank for a loan of one euro and was told she would have to pay 9% at the end of the year. For security she offered E60,000 in Government bonds. The bank manager, foreseeing a potential depositor, accepted the bonds and gave the woman a euro. At the end of the year, she was back with a euro and nine cents to clear the debt and asked for the return of her bonds. The manager said: “As you have all those bonds, why did you have to borrow a euro?” “Well,” said the woman “I really didn’t have to. But do you know any other way I could get the use of a safe-deposit box for nine cents a year?”

Personal cheque The young woman who entered our bank to cash a cheque looked so hesitant that I went to help her. “Please sign the back of the cheque,” I told her, “as you’d sign a letter.” She looked at me gratefully, scribbled on the check and passed it to me. Signed on the back was: “Yours affectionately, Pamela.”

First response Overheard at the customer inquiry desk: Worried customer: “What do I have to do to change the address on my account?” Customer adviser: “You have to move.”

IT’S PRETTY AMAZING THAT OUR SOCIETY HAS REACHED A POINT

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No snouts in trough for PIGS in Tel Aviv O

A man who tried to rob a bank in Pennsylvania recently only demanded $1 – because he hoped to be sent to a nearby federal prison, according to police. Jeffrey McMullen, a regular customer of the AmeriServ branch in Northern Cambria, handed notes to two tellers demanding a dollar. One of the notes read: “Federal bank robbery. Please hand over $1.00.” The tellers thought it was a joke. But the police were eventually called when he told another employee that he was robbing the bank for a buck. Police believe McMullen wanted to be prosecuted for a federal offence so he could be taken to a prison in central Pennsylvania.

The crisis in the British lender, Northern Rock, in September 2007 – which was to herald much wider difficulties in the sector – prompted a great deal of concern in the Bank of England. A member of the Bank’s court, who asked not to be named, recalled the events vivdly: “At about 6.30pm, we were told there would be a meeting of court. Instead of

WHERE THE EFFORT NECESSARY TO

EXTRACT OIL FROM THE GROUND,

SHIP IT TO A REFINERY, TURN IT INTO PLASTIC,

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One buck stick-up

SHAPE IT APPROPRIATELY,

DELIVER IT TO A STORE, BUY IT AND BRING IT HOME IS CONSIDERED TO BE LESS EFFORT THAN WHAT IT TAKES TO JUST WASH THE SPOON WHEN YOU’RE DONE WITH IT.

november 2012

spectrum

IBOA THE FINANCE UNION

Jeffrey McMullen

he more we learn about the events surrounding the banking crisis on these islands, the less surprising it is that the whole edifice was close to meltdown in 2008.

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Spectrum November/December 2012