Bank of Ireland IT workers end dispute over HP outsourcing deal

Bank of Ireland has ended a prolonged dispute with its IT staff over plans to outsource its IT services to Hewlett-Packard.

Bank of Ireland has ended a prolonged dispute with its IT staff over plans to outsource its IT services to Hewlett-Packard.

IT workers, who last month took part in a one-day strike, have voted overwhelmingly to accept an arbitration deal that offers significant job security and pension guarantees.

HP and Bank of Ireland welcomed the agreement. “The outsourcing programme now moves towards the latter stages of due diligence and contract signing,” said a Bank of Ireland representative.

The £380m, seven-year deal is now expected to be signed next month and will be followed by a three-month transition period before HP begins the contract.

It will involve the transfer of 145 UK-based staff at the bank’s Bristol and West unit and more than 350 staff in Ireland to HP.

IT assets that will be transferred to HP include IBM mainframes and Windows NT4 and Windows 2000 servers, together with desktops, networks and the ATM network.

Staff due to be outsourced will receive a minimum one-off payment of £3,500 and pension guarantees. At the heart of the agreement is a two-year guarantee of no compulsory redundancies. Any staff facing compulsory job loss in the third year of the deal will be offered the option of transferring back to Bank of Ireland or a substantial pay off.

This transfer option will extend to year five of the deal for former bank workers who had previously been outsourced to Perot Systems.

The Irish Bank Officials Organisation had been demanding job security guarantees for the full life of the contract. But after negotiations with the Bank of Ireland and HP, the union told its members the deal recommended by an independent arbitrator was the best that could be achieved without an all-out strike.

HP has responded positively to the arbitrator’s recommendation that negotiations between HP and the union “should form the basis for future relationships”.

“HP is currently considering all the recommendations of the arbitrator, in association with Bank of Ireland, with a view to implementation,” HP told Computer Weekly.

“HP takes employee representation very seriously. HP in Europe has a full spectrum of employee representation from individuals to workers’ council and union representation.”

l IT workers at Fujitsu Services were set to start a work-to-rule and hold a 24-hour strike this week after last-minute talks failed to settle a dispute about trade union rights and pay.

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