GROWING NUMBER OF IRISH EMPLOYEES NOW WORK FROM HOME - The notion of the traditional Irish office is changing, with a growing number of workers taking advantage of new technology to work from home, a new survey has found writes the Irish Times. The survey, which was carried out by Ignite research on behalf of O2 Ireland, found that about 44% of employees work from home at least one day a month, and a third of those who already enjoy flexible working arrangements said they expected the trend to gather pace in the coming 12 months. Among the main benefits for such working arrangements are a better work-life balance, which 70% of those surveyed said they enjoyed as a result. Some 45% of workers who can work remotely said they believed most business communications would be done from outside the office over the next five years. The survey defined remote workers as those who work at least one day a month from home, a client’s office, coffee shop, on the train or other location outside of the office. Most remote workers still base themselves at home, with 78% working from there. Almost 30% said they had set up a dedicated space for working at home, with more than half considering such a move.
UK OFFICIAL TO MEET UPHAPPY ULSTER BANK BUSINESS CUSTOMERS - Complaints about how Ulster Bank allegedly mistreated business customers here “mirror” those investigated in Britain, a senior UK government adviser has told the Irish Independent. Lawrence Tomlinson, a special adviser to Britain’s business minister Vince Cable, says he will be “happy” to give a copy of his next report on the crisis-hit bank to Finance Minister Michael Noonan. Dr Tomlinson is due to arrive in Belfast this week where more than 40 Ulster Bank customers from all over Ireland will meet him to discuss alleged malpractice by the financial institution, which is 81% owned by the British government. In a damning report last November, Dr Tomlinson, who runs a care home empire, said customers of Ulster Bank’s parent company the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) believed their viable businesses had been deliberately shut down so the bank could make more money out of them. One major focus of his report was the operations of the bank’s Global Restructuring Group (GRG), a specialist ‘work-out’ unit into which ‘at risk’ customers are put. However, many business customers of both RBS in Britain and Ulster Bank here have argued they could have survived had they not been put into GRG.
'MIS-SELLING' NOT LIMITED TO PPIs - About half of all people who were mis-sold payment protection insurance were also sold CPP insurance, according to research by solicitors McHale Muldoon. In Ireland there were more than 340,000 payment protection insurance policies sold to customers, a large number of which were sold to unsuitable clients, says the Irish Examiner. CPP sold an identity protection insurance product to customers that would cover consumers if their credit cards were cloned. However, most card issuers such as Visa and Mastercard already provided this cover. In the UK the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has ordered CPP to pay out a compensation package worth £1.3 billion (€1.5 billion) - an average payment of £200 (€244) per customer who was mis-sold CPP identity insurance. In Ireland, both Ulster Bank and Bank of Ireland sold the CPP products in question to Irish customers. A solicitor with McHale Muldoon, Kieran Friel, said that the only reason that Irish consumers are not being compensated is a failing by the Central Bank.
DRIVE AT DAVOS FORUM TO CUT GREEN TRADE BARRIERS -The US, EU, Japan and 10 other economies will on Friday launch a new push to lower tariffs and other trade barriers on the $1.4 trillion global annual market in green goods and services, says the Financial Times. The move is intended to end a deadlock within the World Trade Organisation, where efforts to secure a deal on green goods have been caught up in the stalemate around the 12-year-old Doha round of negotiations. The initiative is to be announced on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in Davos on Friday by Michael Froman, the US trade representative, and counterparts including Karel De Gucht, the EU’s trade commissioner. It will build on a 2012 commitment by the 21 countries in Apec, the Pacific Rim forum, to cut all tariffs to a maximum of 5% by 2015 for 54 different classes of goods. Those range from solar panels and wind turbines to filters and other parts used in power and sewerage plants and catalytic converters for cars. It will add to the broader US-led efforts to revive trade negotiations around the world. The US and EU last year launched discussions with more than 20 other economies over liberalising the $4 trillion annual trade in services. The US and EU are also in negotiations over a transatlantic trade pact while the US is in the final stages of negotiating a 12-country Pacific Rim deal.