Ulster Bank to cut up to 1,800 jobs
Royal Bank of Scotland's troubled Ulster Bank arm announced up to another 1,800 job cuts and around 40 branch closures under plans to return it to profit within the next three years.
Ulster will slash its branch network from 214 to between 175 and 185 by the end of 2014, mainly impacting rural branches as it looks to focus on towns and cities.
In a presentation to investors, it said the turnaround plans would "significantly" reduce its workforce, from around 5,800 full-time staff to between 4,000 and 4,500 by 2016.
The job losses come on top of 950 redundancies announced at the start of last year, while its branch network has also reduced by 24 over the past 18 months.
Ulster Bank, which has branches across Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, said it was too early to confirm where the job cuts will have an impact.
Irish finance union IBOA said the branch cuts were a "bolt from the blue" and slammed Ulster Bank for its "cavalier" approach to staff and customers.
IBOA general secretary Larry Broderick said: "While everyone is aware that Ulster Bank's parent, RBS, is in some disarray at the moment and its commitment to its Irish operation has been the subject of much speculation recently, I sometimes wonder if the senior management in Ulster Bank are deliberately trying to sabotage the bank's future by their cavalier approach to their customers and staff."
There has been speculation that Chancellor George Osborne was considering jettisoning loss-making Ulster Bank from RBS to help ready the 81%-state-owned group for a return to the private sector.
Ulster Bank has suffered hefty losses as it counts the cost of loans turned sour since the financial crisis.
It slumped into the red with operating losses of £1.04 billion for the core business in 2012, but it said trading was improving as losses almost halved year-on-year in the first quarter of 2013 to £164 million.