Belfast Telegraph

Lloyds reveals plans to shed 19 Ulster jobs in shake-up

By John Mulgrew and PA

Almost 20 jobs are set to go in Belfast as part of a package of cuts across the Lloyds Banking Group throughout the UK.

It is understood 19 positions will be lost in Northern Ireland, with the bulk of them believed to be in Belfast.

Lloyds operates a large sales and service call centre at the Gasworks business park in the south of the city.

The site, which formerly dealt with Halifax and Bank of Scotland customers exclusively before it became part of Lloyds Banking Group in 2009, houses hundreds of workers.

The bank said that "compulsory redundancies will always be a last resort".

The business also has more than a dozen Halifax branches throughout Northern Ireland, including four in Belfast.

Halifax's office at the Gasworks on the Ormeau Road is one of the mortgage lender and savings provider's largest call centres.

It comes as Lloyds Banking Group announced details of up to 1,000 job losses throughout the UK, as part of previously announced cuts of around 9,000.

Unions said they were pressing for no compulsory redundancies and for staff to be redeployed.

The reductions are in retail, commercial banking, human resources, group products and marketing, consumer finance, risk and finance. However, about 150 new jobs will be created in areas including retail.

In a statement, the bank said: "Lloyds Banking Group is committed to working through these changes with employees in a careful and sensitive way.

"All affected employees have been briefed by their line manager today. The group's recognised unions were consulted prior to this announcement and will continue to be consulted.

"The group's policy is always to use natural turnover and to redeploy people wherever possible to retain their expertise and knowledge within the group.

"Where it is necessary for employees to leave the company, it will look to achieve this by offering voluntary redundancy. Compulsory redundancies will always be a last resort."

Rob MacGregor, national officer of Unite, said: "Once again we see Lloyds Bank seeking to make short-term savings at the expense of both the workforce and customer service.

"Unite's overriding concern is to challenge and avoid any compulsory redundancies.

"Following negotiations the bank has committed to providing alternative jobs, voluntary redundancy and voluntary job swapping where possible.

"We will make sure the bank keeps to these commitments, while continuing to consult and support our members."

The taxpayer owns 11% of the group after it received a £20bn bailout during the financial crisis.

It was initially 43% taxpayer-owned, but the Treasury has since sold part of its stake.

The job losses will be the latest round of cuts to the bank, which includes Lloyds, Halifax and Bank of Scotland.

Bank of Scotland began winding up its operations in Ireland in 2010 after lending extensively during the property boom.

It is believed that some of the cuts in the banking group came about because of customers' preference for internet banking over the regular form.

Belfast Telegraph