Shiny new offices blinded workers to a looming bleak future
on 09/02/2013 00:00:00
However, staff at the bank had taken hope that their shiny new office meant they had a bright future.
"If you move into a new office you presume there is going to be a future there," said an IBRC worker who, in the last few years, has been transferred from Irish Nationwide Building Society to Permanent TSB and then on to IBRC.
"They spent an awful lot of money doing up the old Nationwide building on Grand Parade. They put new carpets, new kitchen, they did up the meeting rooms and all that. Somebody had a plan to keep this running. They physically changed the place and we went back in to their lovely shiny new offices. Looking at how much they managed to spend on the place, I should have been a builder."
The eight-storey building was built to house the head office of the Carrolls tobacco group, but since the early hours of Thursday, it is the 350-odd staff who work there who have seen their futures go up in smoke.
Staff who were working late on Wednesday got an email at about 6.20pm informing them that a liquidator had been appointed to the board of IBRC, but that they should come into work as normal the following day.
"When the email came in, I thought: 'Oh that's a bit serious', and just carried on with my life," said the employee.
"I saw the nine o'clock news and then the shenanigans in the Dáil and I thought: 'Oh shit, this is actually really serious.' That was a bit strange. It was very strange to see [Finance Minister] Michael Noonan talking about my future on the telly."
In his address to the Dáil at midnight on Thursday, Mr Noonan did apologise to the staff of IBRC who he had just effectively made redundant.
"I regret the abruptness of how this decision is communicated to the management and staff, but due to the scale, sensitivity and complexity of the economic issues involved, it was necessary in the public interest to keep the matter confidential until now," he said.
The staff with whom the Irish Examiner spoke were sceptical about Mr Noonan's contrition.
"He was practical and factual about it because he doesn't know me, he doesn't really care about me," said the employee. "There is the big picture and then there is the enormous picture he is worried about; Ireland, Europe, and the money in Ireland's purse. Not what somebody is doing on a day-to-day basis, and whether or not they can pay their mortgage next month is not his concern."
To add insult to injury, many of the staff working in the mortgage sections of the bank were not allowed to apply for the previous voluntary redundancy schemes that were run, as they were deemed vital to the company's operations.
Now, the vital nature of their work means that, instead of receiving packages that at one point offered up to seven weeks' pay per year of service, they get just statutory redundancy.
"The last round of voluntary redundancies, we were told we couldn't apply for them because our roles were way too vital," said the employee. "The redundancies weren't at all voluntary, they knew exactly who they wanted to go."
The Irish Bank Officials' Association is meeting receivers on Monday and are seeking a meeting with Mr Noonan early next week to discuss the future of existing staff.
IBRC staff have been offered rolling month-to-month contracts by an entity called IBRC (special liquidation) for the duration of the liquidation.
However, for staff who worked under Michael Fingleton, Mike Aynsley, and now KPMG, little has changed.
"Same shit, different boss. No change at all, absolutely no difference, except new carpets on the floor."