The Financial Services Union has referred the ongoing dispute with KBC Bank over the closure of branches to the Workplace Relations Commission.

The union says the bank has refused to engage on what it described as genuine staff concerns.

The General Secretary of the FSU, John O Connell has written to the WRC informing them that the union are now formally in dispute with KBC over the banks failure to address staff's serious concern on its proposed plans to close four of its 16 branches or hubs. FSU is seeking an early conciliation meeting to try to save jobs and protect working conditions.

"Earlier this month KBC announced that it was closing four of its 16 branches without prior consultation with its staff or the FSU," Mr O Connell said, "since then we have looked to engage with the bank at every possible opportunity to discuss the legitimate concerns raised by our members about redeployment issues, protection of pay, remote working and redundancy terms. It is extremely disappointing that KBC have refused to engage with the FSU on these serious issues."  

Last year, appearing before the Joint Committee on Finance, Public Expenditure and Reform, the CEO of KBC, Peter Roebben, highlighted the importance of its branch network for "customers seeking person to person interaction ".

 "I agree completely with the CEO on the importance of the branch network. In the middle of a pandemic the branch network has never been more important for people", said Mr O'Connell.

The union said KBC staff, in common with other retail banks, were designated essential employees, and management congratulated staff for their efforts in keeping services going during the pandemic.