Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 17 April 2014

Unions furious over Ulster Bank cuts

There has been an angry response from unions after Ulster Bank announced it is slashing its workforce.

The bank, which currently employs 2,350 people in its 90 branches in Northern Ireland, said it would make 350 redundancies here as it reorganises its business in the face of harsh economic conditions.

"In Ulster Bank ... rank-and-file staff are again being asked to make the lion's share of the sacrifices being demanded to restore the bank to health," Larry Broderick, general secretary of the main Ulster Bank workers' union, the Irish Bank Officials Associations, said.

He blamed the bank's woes on executives at parent company RBS.

"While those responsible (at RBS) have escaped with impunity - through golden parachutes and the like - and while those charged with restoring the fortunes of RBS are apparently due to be handsomely rewarded with generous bonuses, the ordinary staff throughout RBS have been called upon to bear a disproportionate amount of the pain."

He said the impact of the latest round of cuts could be even more severe than those in 2009.

"The sheer magnitude of this second wave of proposed redundancies is breathtaking," he said.

David Fleming, Unite national officer, said RBS's decision to reduce the headcount was "staggering".

"It is a disgrace that while on a daily basis stories are emerging about the massive bonuses at the top of the bank, increasing numbers of jobs are being cut from amongst the hard-working staff," he said. A total of 950 jobs are to go from the 6,000 strong workforce across the island of Ireland - 600 in the Republic and the 350 in Northern Ireland.

Internal figures show that 446 of the latest tranche of job losses will be at the bank's retail markets division, most of whom work in the branch network.

Its corporate markets division will be the next worst-affected division and will lose 184 staff.

Another 155 staff will go at the chief operation office, 60 at credit and market risk, 58 at group finance and 26 at the asset protection scheme division.

A further 10 jobs will go at corporate affairs, six at the regulatory and operational risk division and five at the global restructuring group.

It has also emerged that the axed staff are set to face a battle over their redundancy pay. The bank is unlikely to table the same deal it offered when it shed 1,000 staff under a voluntary redundancy scheme two years ago.

The bank has still not indicated how many of the job losses will be voluntary, but has not ruled out compulsory redundancies. The bulk of the staff who will lose their jobs are expected to leave in the second half of this year.

It is understood there will be no branch closures.

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