The Irish Bank Officials Association has deferred a ballot on industrial action at Bank of Ireland over new pension arrangements described by the union as 'inferior'.

This follows confirmation that the Labour Court will arrange a hearing on the dispute within the next four weeks. But chairman Kevin Duffy also called on management and the union to  avoid any action which could exacerbate the current dispute. He urged both sides to maintain the status quo until the court had issued its recommendation.

The IBOA said it welcomed the Labour Court intervention, and would defer its ballot on industrial action.  But a spokesperson stressed that this was conditional on Bank of Ireland returning to the status quo.

Bank of Ireland also welcomed the Labour Court invitation, but a spokesperson said it would not be able to roll back the new pension arrangements which had been implemented on October 1. He said staff recruited since then had been employed on those terms and conditions, and the bank was contractually bound to abide by those terms.