Belfast Telegraph

Ulster Bank cuts 64 jobs, but plans new branch in west Belfast

By John Mulgrew

Ulster Bank is set to open a new branch in west Belfast as the company announces it's cutting more than 60 jobs. The bank is seeking redundancies for 51 debt management staff, and 13 from its call centre. The staff affected are based at Danesfort in Stranmillis, south Belfast.

However, it says it is adding 10 new call centre posts. It's understood the roles are in a more senior position.

It comes just three months after the Belfast Telegraph revealed the bank was closing nine branches across Northern Ireland.

Meanwhile, plans have been lodged for a new Ulster Bank branch at the recently revamped Westwood Shopping Centre in west Belfast.

The bank currently has a branch at the Andersonstown Leisure Centre. But it is being knocked down to make way for a new leisure centre.

A spokesman for Ulster Bank said: "As part of our ongoing efforts to build a strong and sustainable bank, we are seeking 51 redundancies from our debt management operations team and 13 from our contact centre team.

"We will also be creating 10 new roles in our contact centre team as a result of these changes. We will aim to complete this process on a voluntary basis and we expect to be able to offer redeployment opportunities for all impacted employees.

"We are communicating directly with members of staff to explain the next steps to them."

It's understood the bank will try and shed the posts through voluntary redundancy. According to the Financial Services Union (FSU), Ulster Bank is moving the posts to other centres in Birmingham and Rotherham.

Gareth Murphy, senior industrial relations official with the FSU, called on the bank to "put this proposal on hold and review its serious implications".

"This appears to be solely a cost-cutting measure," he said.

"However, Ulster Bank in Northern Ireland made a pre-tax profit of £58m last year.

"Staff are contributing hugely to the improved fortunes of the bank - they do not deserve this type of treatment."

In March Ulster Bank, which is headed by Richard Donnan in Northern Ireland, revealed it was closing nine branches in October this year.

They are: Antrim Road, Woodstock Road, Boucher Road and Newtownbreda in Belfast; Monkstown; Kircubbin and Bangor; Garvagh, and Ulster Bank's Londonderry branch close to the Millennium Forum.

In May this year Ulster Bank revealed pre-tax profits of £58m for 2016.

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