A Quinn Insurance worker holds a copy of a letter of redundancy

After all the wailing, moaning and gnashing of teeth in Cavan about the administrators for Quinn Insurance forcing job losses on the insolvent company, it turns out the workers themselves are pretty keen to take the redundancy money and run.

Last week it emerged that more than 900 Quinn employees have applied for voluntary redundancy, slightly exceeding the number required by the ongoing restructuring at the company.

Perversely, despite the near-match in headcount, all the workers who want to leave may not get to and mandatory job losses may be on the way. The administrators have said that, because there are targeted headcount reductions at each site, with Blanchardstown being the hardest hit, applications would be considered on a site-by-site basis.

The Quinn redundancy programme is following a pattern already seen in the banks: ailing, overstaffed franchises respond to the stress of the recession by shedding jobs, to be met first by employee and union resistance and then by enthusiastic take-up.

Halifax, the retail banking arm of Bank of Scotland Ireland, confirmed in February that it would be shutting its doors at the cost of 750 jobs – nearly half of BOSI's workforce. Unite, union to 1,000 employees at the bank, made a big show of opposition initially, but union members are scrambling to get out.

Unite representative Brian Gallagher told the Sunday Tribune that the redundancy programme was "heavily oversubscribed... All financial services red­und­ancies are oversubscribed, particularly among certain age groups, such as people in their 20s".

Anglo Irish Bank reportedly had about 400 people apply for 230 redundancies in November of last year as the new management, led by chief executive Mike Aynsley, sought to "right-size" the bank. Anglo is planning another redundancy round of similar size this year, so it may be able to satisfy workers' demand to leave the institution.

"People are dying to get out of there," said a source close to the bank. "Morale is very low and people feel very let down by what has happened."

Ulster Bank, the first bank to embark on a formal redundancy programme in early 2009 when it eliminated the First Active brand, added 250 jobs to the scheme last August after the first 750 slots were oversubscribed.

More recently, National Irish Bank got quick agreement from the Irish Bank Officials Association for the 150 job losses it needed to close 25 of its 58 branches in a large-scale downsizing that will see the already small bank significantly reduce its retail profile and go 'cashless' in a further bid to cut costs. It is understood generous terms helped get the redundancy package over the line with minimal rancour.

Banking behemoths Bank of Ireland and AIB have yet to cut their work forces, opting instead to shed jobs through attrition. But given the experience of their peers, the two banks may face very little disruption should they decide to reduce numbers, as most analysts believe they must.

They may even find their apparently loyal employees are only to eager to escape.