The Bank of Ireland (BoI) is to spend EUR40 million on consolidating technology and improving automation across the enterprise over the next four years under a EUR120 million cost reduction programme.
In a statement to the Irish Stock Exchange, BoI says the programme includes increasing efficiency at its retail business in Ireland, the streamlining of support services and the consolidation of processing activities currently dispersed throughout the group.
The bank also confirms that it is shedding 2100 staff, or 12% of its workforce, under the programme. The bank says the lay-offs will cost EUR210m over the next four years, including EUR115m in fiscal 2005.
BoI chief executive Brian Goggin told reporters that the bank would close 10 of its 291 branches in the Republic of Ireland, while its 22 call centers in both the UK and Ireland would be consolidated into just four units.
Goggin says he hopes the staff cuts can be achieved voluntarily but he is ready for the propect of compulsory redundancies and even strike action by staff.
In July 2003 technical staff at the bank staged a 24-hour walk out in protest over plans to outsource IT functions to HP. The deal finally went ahead in November 2003 after staff had secured improved terms and conditions for the trasfer of jobs, including a one-off payment of EUR5500, job security for two years with an option for redeployment within the bank for five years afterwards. Affected staff will also kept pensions rights and other benefits.
Unions have reacted furiously to the latest job cuts at BoI. Larry Broderick, general secretary at The Irish Bank Officials' Association, told reporters the IBOA would wage "a strong resistence campaign", but he declined to say whether this would result in industrial action.
Amicus has also condemned the decision by the bank to announce the job losses without prior negotiation and consultation. In a statement, Amicus Bank of Ireland officer Colm Quinlan, says: "We will resist in the strongest terms any attempt to sacrifice jobs purely to enhance massive profits... We will not countenance any proposal that includes compulsory redundancies and will oppose any proposals to outsource jobs abroad."