IBOA warns Ulster Bank staff could face forced redundancy
Union wary of outcome of strategic review of RBS’s Irish bank operations due in February
Parent company RBS said it would undertake a comprehensive review of Ulster Bank to identify a “sustainable business model” for the business in Ireland. Photograph: Bryan O’Brien/The Irish Times
Ulster Bank staff could face compulsory redundancies, outsourcing, pay cuts, and branch closures when parent company Royal Bank of Scotland announces the results of a strategic review of the Irish bank’s operations in February, the Irish Bank Officials Association told members yesterday.
The stark warning came in a circular issued by the IBOA to Ulster Bank staff. The union said measures “may” include additional redundancies, including compulsory job cuts, outsourcing of certain functions, the closure of additional branches or departments, changes to pay and terms and conditions, and the introduction of “new, inferior contracts”.
The IBOA said RBS’s announcement in November that it would continue to support Ulster Bank was “welcome”. However, it said Ulster Bank’s management had told the union that they have not been informed of RBS’s specific changes.
“Ulster Bank management has so far been unable to confirm that the current agreement on restructuring will continue to apply in any new reorganisation,” the IBOA said.
This agreement includes commitments on agreed redundancy terms, procedures for redeployment and protection of salaries, and the principle that any redundancies would be voluntary.
Ulster Bank currently employs about 5,800 staff in Ireland. In 2012, the bank announced plans to reduce its headcount here by 950 but this programme has not yet been concluded.
The IBOA said it would try to “mobilise customers and public representatives in the Republic, Northern Ireland and Britain to protect the maximum number of long-term sustainable jobs within Ulster Bank”.
The IBOA said its campaign to influence the RBS review would begin next week. The union’s general secretary Larry Broderick will appear before the House of Commons Northern Ireland affairs committee at Westminster next week, which will discuss banking in the North.
The IBOA’s circular said the “coming weeks and months” could be the “most decisive in Ulster Bank’s history”.
RBS said it would undertake a comprehensive review of Ulster Bank to identify a “sustainable business model” for the business in Ireland.
No comment on the review was available from either RBS or Ulster Bank last night.