herald

Monday 23 October 2017

Front-line bank staff assaulted by public

FRONT-Line bank workers are bearing the brunt of the public's anger over the economic crisis, with nearly 75pc reporting abuse from customers.

The attacks range from threats and insults to physical assaults, according to the Irish Bank Officials Association (IBOA).

And at least one bank has introduced a counselling service for employees because of the abuse, reports stated.

The IBOA revealed that 18pc of the more than 1,500 workers who responded to an online survey have been insulted and spat at by angry members of the public. In addition, 20pc have been abused in a similar manner outside of work.

This is particularly prevalent in rural towns, where physical attacks have even been reported. A further 36pc have been targets, both at work and outside the office.

Threat

Following the survey, the IBOA has urged bank customers to stop directing their anger at front-line workers.

IBOA general secretary Larry Broderick said bank staff are under stress "having to bear the brunt of public anger at the recklessness of bank bosses while at the same time facing the threat of substantial job losses as the price for the recklessness of others".

Mr Broderick said bank workers are seeing this kind of abuse "not just in the working day but even socially in the evening".

"Many of our members now are saying that they are reluctant to go out in the evening or indeed to identify themselves as bank workers," he said. "We are trying to differentiate between senior managers as distinct from ordinary bank workers."

Bank workers have themselves lost a fortune in the banking collapse.

Ordinary bank officials once had €50m worth of shares in profit-sharing schemes in Bank of Ireland and AIB, but the value of the schemes has disappeared.

The association, which represents staff on salaries range between €20,000 and €55,000, said the public are right to be angry at the actions of senior executives in financial institutions.

Senior figures at the banks have also had to run the gauntlet. Last year, Gillian Bowler, the chair of Irish Life & Permanent (IL&P), was verbally abused and "shoved" by a furious pensioner as she shopped in Donnybrook.

comurphy@herald.ie

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