Over 8,000 staff at Bank of Ireland are to be balloted for industrial action as a row over changes to the pension scheme for new entrants deepens.

An emergency meeting of The Irish Bank Officials Association, which represents the majority of staff, announced the decision this afternoon.

Amicus, which represents a further 500 staff at the bank, will also consider a ballot for industrial action on the pensions issue.

The row centres on changes to the pension scheme for new entrants from 1 October, which the union says will leave staff on less favourable terms.

Bank of Ireland has said it is disappointed at the IBOA's decision.

It described the ballot as ‘completely unnecessary based on the facts about Bank of Ireland pension arrangements’, and said that the new pension scheme was in the best interests of all employees, current and future.

The company is disputing the claim by the union that new employees would retire on as little as 25% of salary compared to two thirds under the current scheme. It says new staff will have the potential to retire on up to 66% of salary.

Bank of Ireland also repeated that existing staff will not be affected by the changes that come into effect next week.

The matter has been referred to the National Implementation Body.