Fears of AIB branch closures in North and UK

Bank begins strategic review of operations in UK and its First Trust network in North

AIB: the Financial Services Union has called on the bank to reassure staff and customers about the future of the branch network in Northern Ireland, especially as the bank had posted a pretax profit of €1 billion for the first six months of this year.   Photograph: Aidan Crawley/Bloomberg

AIB: the Financial Services Union has called on the bank to reassure staff and customers about the future of the branch network in Northern Ireland, especially as the bank had posted a pretax profit of €1 billion for the first six months of this year. Photograph: Aidan Crawley/Bloomberg

 

AIB has commenced a strategic review of its operations in the UK, including its First Trust branch network in Northern Ireland.

This has led to fears that some of its 30 branches in Northern Ireland could be closed.

In a circular to staff on Monday, the Financial Services Union said Brendan O’Connor, who leads AIB’s UK operation, had committed that when the review is completed, management would engage with the union to agree how best to implement the recommendations that emerge.

Employee impact

Mr O’Connor is said to have pledged that employee impacts would be kept to a minimum and there would be full engagement with the union to ensure that all member concerns were dealt with in advance of any implementation of change. News of AIB’s review of its UK business came just days after Bank of Ireland announced its intention to close eight branches in Northern Ireland later this year in a move that could result in up to 54 voluntary redundancies.

The FSU yesterday called on AIB to reassure staff and customers about the future of the branch network in Northern Ireland, especially as the bank had posted a pretax profit of €1 billion for the first six months of this year.

“In light of the bank’s very significant half-yearly profits, it is imperative that AIB senior management reassures staff and customers about the bank’s future strategy,” Larry Broderick, general secretary of the FSU, said.

“The FSU is seeking reassurances from the bank about its commitment to the existing retail branch network, particularly in Northern Ireland, given the bank’s recent announcement that a wide-ranging structural review of First Trust is to be undertaken.”

Pay arrangements

Mr Broderick said finalising pay arrangements for staff and addressing “severe staffing and workplace-stress issues” were key issues for the union.

In a statement, AIB said: “We continually keep our operations in all markets under review to ensure we are operating as effectively and efficiently as possible.”

AIB said yesterday the UK operation accounts for 10 per cent of its assets and 15 per cent of its gross loans.

In addition to its branch network in the North, it has a niche offering to owner-managed businesses in Britain.