Spare a thought this week for employees of the nation’s banks – no, not the institutions’ bosses - but the ordinary front line staff who have been told that thousands of jobs must go as a consequence of the behaviour of senior figures, who have walked away with obscene golden handshakes.
First it was the Ulster Bank who announced that 500 jobs would be axed in the coming months - just two years after the lender shed 1,000 jobs.
Then in recent days it was revealed that the country’s bailout team had decreed that up to 2,500 employees would have to be cut urgently to smooth the way for massive restructuring.
The officials keeping Ireland’s finances in check believe that State-owned banks are paying salaries to huge numbers of unnecessary workers and they have now told the Government that a massive clear-out of bank staff is needed - sooner rather than later.
The news has come as a devastating blow to the staff of all the banks, who must now bear the brunt for the disgraceful behaviour of a few.
Those who were the catalysts of this disaster have not suffered the ignominy of redundancy, unemployment and little prospects for a future in this country. They have walked away with hundreds of thousands in severance pay, indeed in some cases rising to millions of euro in compensation, not for a job well done, but for a performance which was greatly less than par, and in some cases bordering on criminal.
The people now facing disastrous consequences are those who played no hand, act or part in what this country is enduring. They were employees who went about their daily tasks, with the firm conviction that those leading the banks were people who would guide the institutions in a controlled and measured way and would, in turn, safeguard such important bodies for the benefit of staff and the nation as a whole.
Instead, they were as shocked and outraged when the revelations of the banking sector were revealed. And, to add insult to injury, they bore the brunt of public anger. When customers, disillusioned with events and in dire straights, presented themselves before banking officials, it was not the higher echelon who dealt with their frustration and ire. It was the staff on the front line who had to try to appease that anger and explain the very difficult circumstances in which people had found themselves.
Now, they too are at the forefront of those catastrophic economic decisions. Thousands will lost their jobs as a consequence and it is not difficult to understand their bewilderment and exasperation.
A proportion will choose voluntary redundancy, particularly if the package offered is such that it will be more economically beneficial to opt for early retirement. However, many hundreds, if not thousands, will receive a package which will be neither practical nor meet their future needs. They will join the lengthy dole queues and will be left with responsibilities which they will find impossible to meet.
If those in positions of responsibility feel nothing for those large scale investors who have lost their veritable shirts in this disaster, one wonders if they will take even a modicum of responsibility for the disastrous circumstances in which they have left colleagues and friends.
We doubt sincerely that they will. They do not seem to be even remotely embarrassed by the events which have brought this country to its knees. It is entirely unlikely that they will ever see themselves as the architects of an economic disaster which is now impinging so greatly on the employees they were once sworn to serve. Their arrogance has been breathtaking and one can but hope that they will one day come to realise just how catastrophically their actions have impinged on valued colleagues, and have left a trail of destruction in their wake.