Halifax informed 750 workers over a conference call that they will be joining the dole queues. Profit and self-preservation come at all costs for the senior bankers even at the cost of jobs and services. Halifax came to Ireland to make profits. Now the bubble is burst they are viciously axing jobs and services.
The events in Halifax and the other banks show the greed that is at the heart of the banks.
Halifax/Bank of Scotland entered Irish banking over ten years ago. They played their part in fueling the property bubble. Low interest rates were offered which forced the other banks to give out more and more unaffordable credit to customers. Now, customers no longer offer them any source of profits, in fact they see banking services to members of the public as a burden. HBOS are therefore axing their branch network and abandoning their customers.
All the banks are determined to reduce employment and the conditions of staff. However the Irish banks have not fully acted yet due to the NAMA process and the government’s hesitancy to unleash large scale additions to the dole queues at this stage. This will change. Brian Cowen and Fianna Fail, or any of the main parties, do not have the interests of staff and customers at heart. The banks that are not part of NAMA have made moves the sack staff and attack pay and conditions.
Ulster Bank, part of the RBS Group, laid off 1,000 workers last year. Following these redundancies they introduced new contracts for existing staff with reduced terms and conditions, no recognition of the unions and an inferior defined contribution pension scheme. Last month 221 lost their jobs in RBS Technology Services. These positions were moved to India where pay and conditions are far less than Ireland.
While it is the foreign owned banks announcing job losses today, it will be the Irish owned and State guaranteed banks that will follow soon. The trade unions need to act with determination and with a militant response. Press releases are not enough. Expressing ‘regret’ or ‘concern’ is not enough. Unite said they will be opposing the job losses in Halifax. They must now organise the rank-and-file to do this to preserve jobs and services.
The Socialist Party call for nationalisation of the banks under democratic working class control. We don’t stand for the pro-banker bailouts and ‘nationalisations’. Halifax is already partially nationalised by the UK government; Ulster Bank is 84% owned by the UK government. It is the British Labour government that are pushing for lay-offs of ordinary staff and have signed off on rotten bonus schemes for senior executives in these ‘nationalised’ banks.
Ownership of the banks should be under the control of the workforce and the working class . There should be no ‘bonuses’ for executives. The terms, conditions and pensions of staff should not be cut. The skills and talents of those working in finance should be used to provide services to the public. The massive debts that the banks shoved onto people buying homes should be revisited. The massive wealth that exists in society should be used to benefit working people and society as a whole and not be left in the hands of the bankers and their friends in government.