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Bank of Ireland today said that it has finally ended a long-running dispute with workers over the outsourcing of IT functions to Hewlett-Packard.

In a brief statement, Bank of Ireland said that the latest ballot of Irish Bank Officials Association (IBOA) members in Bank of Ireland's IT arm ITSIS on the bank's most recent outsourcing plan had resulted in a favourable vote. That plan included the recommendations of independent arbiter and chief executive of the Labour Relations Commission, Kieran Mulvey.

The outsourcing programme can now move towards the latter stages of due diligence and contract signing, Bank of Ireland said in its statement. "The group welcomes this acceptance and are pleased that this matter has been resolved. We now look forward to resuming full engagement with all in-scope employees and with HP and Esat/BT as we progress to fully implement the terms of Mr Mulvey's recommendations."

The news comes as no great shock after both IBOA leaders and Bank of Ireland officials indicated last month that they were close to a resolution. In July, the bank's IT staff staged a 24-hour strike in protest at the proposed outsourcing and said more strikes could come if an agreement could not be reached.

At the heart of the dispute, which should see over 200 out of about 300 ITSIS workers transfer to HP under the outsourcing deal, is job security. Prior to the newest deal, staff were to be given a two-year guarantee on their jobs and €3,500, which union members said was insufficient. Although the length of the new guarantee is thought to be the same, workers are expected to be given €5,500 after they are transferred.

The entire length of the contract between HP and Bank of Ireland is seven years, and the deal is valued at about €600 million.

Other aspects of the agreement include an option for staff who face compulsory job loss in the third year of the contract to come back to work for Bank of Ireland. Importantly, this redeployment option will extend into years four and five for former bank workers who moved to Perot Systems under a previous IT contract. It is also thought that generous redundancy packages would be offered to other workers who are cut from HP's payroll in the later stages of the contract.

© ENN

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