THE Ennis branch of Permanent TSB will be spared in the upcoming round of closures.
A spokesman for the Unite Trade Union, which represents the majority of Permanent TSB staff, spoke to The Clare Champion on Wednesday evening and said Ennis is not on the list of closures. He said most of the branches set to close are in cities, particularly in Cork and Dublin.
On Wednesday afternoon outside the Ennis branch, more than one customer said they would definitely take their business to a competing bank if Permanent TSB closed the local outlet.
A woman leaving the bank said she would switch if the branch closed. “Yeah, I would. It’d be awkward because I’m so used to going to this one. I’ve been a customer for about 10 years. Hopefully it won’t close, we’ll have to wait and see.”
Another man said he had been hoping to clarify the situation with the branch manager and fully intended to move banks if the branch closed its doors. “I definitely would if it leaves Ennis. Definitely yeah,” he commented.
Earlier this week, Permanent TSB announced the restructuring plans, which are designed to create a smaller but profitable bank by 2016. In a statement, the company said it would reconfigure its branch network closing 16 of its 92 branches, while another two are to become self-service locations.
They also stated staff numbers would be reduced by up to 250 full-time equivalents and announced the launch of a voluntary severance scheme based on three weeks pay per year of service, with statutory entitlements.
The bank’s chief executive, Jeremy Masding, said the objective is to secure a viable future for a core banking business, while minimising losses from the bank’s loan book.
“Our objective is to carve out a viable, efficient, competitive and customer-focused Permanent TSB bank from within the current group. We believe such a bank can make a positive contribution to the Irish banking landscape and is the best way of protecting the taxpayer’s investment in our business. We face significant challenges. However, we are very confident about our future prospects once this restructuring plan has been implemented.”
Speaking earlier this week, Unite national co-ordinator Walter Cullen said it is a tough time for their members. “This is a very difficult time for all staff. There is an undertaking that the jobs lost will be on a voluntary redundancy basis but clearly there may be issues involving redeployment of those staff whose branch may close but who wish to stay within the group.”
He said too often workers pay the price for failures that they are not responsible for. “There is a significant job of work needed in order to win the confidence of staff who have been hit badly by previous attempts to ‘rescue’ the bank after the reckless lending practices of the past.
“Our members need to be convinced that the restructuring will secure the remaining 1,800 jobs, that management are capable of implementing effective change and that they will be accountable for their decisions. On too many occasions, staff pay the ultimate price of losing their jobs, while those who created the problems have waltzed away with pay-offs.”
He said the union’s role is to maintain as many “long-term sustainable” jobs as possible.