September 2013        

Credit Union workers silenced by a gagging order


A massive turn-out of more than nine hundred angry people at a meeting at the Ryston Sports Centre in Droichead Nua (Newbridge), Co. Kildare, in August heard a spokesperson for the newly formed Credit Union Action Group state that they are “prepared to fight for the future of the struggling institution, and the other serious question of the staff jobs.”
      Sunday newspaper reports added fuel to the fire by quoting a statement from the Central Bank of Ireland that Naas Credit Union had submitted a proposal to the Central Bank last April for combining Newbridge Credit Union with that of Naas. It is also clear that members of both credit unions will have no say in the proposed merger, as this power is now vested, in the case of Naas, in the directors.
     In Newbridge, power has ended up being vested in the hands of the special manager, Luke Charlton of Ernst and Young (auditors to Anglo-Irish Bank in the good old days), who will vote on behalf of the Newbridge directors.
     In addition, since 11 January 2012 the staff of Newbridge Credit Union have been silenced by a gagging order, which threatens them with a personal fine of €100,000 or three years in prison if they breathe a word of what is going on in the credit union.
     The right to defend themselves was removed by a judicial decree, and the workers have been subjected to unrelenting negative coverage by the media. Journalists seem happy to print information supplied by the Central Bank and the Regulator’s office without verifying it for themselves.
     The Central Bank has ridden roughshod over democratic rights while all the time proclaiming that it is protecting savings. The simple truth is that they want to control savings or, if possible, to get them out of the credit union and into the banks. If the credit union disappears, working-class people will be left to the tender mercies of the banks!
     With a cost of €2 million, the question to be asked is, How can a credit union that is supposed to be in trouble afford to pay the exorbitant fees charged by Charlton of €423 an hour, yet the credit union is not allowed to pay dividends to loyal members?
[MH]

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