Ulster Bank and union to extend relationship deal

Deal includes attractive redundancy terms and third-party mediation in disputes

Ulster Bank’s redundancy terms provide for four weeks’ pay per year of service subject to a cap of 104 weeks and £300,000, or its euro equivalent

Ulster Bank’s redundancy terms provide for four weeks’ pay per year of service subject to a cap of 104 weeks and £300,000, or its euro equivalent

 

Ulster Bank and the Financial Services Union have agreed a two-year extension to their procedural and relationship agreement, which allows for voluntary redundancies on attractive terms.

The deal will run until December 31st, 2018, and apply to Ulster Bank’s businesses north and south of the Border, which now operate separately of each other.

It comes as the union and management prepare for talks next month on the future structure of the Royal Bank of Scotland subsidiary.

It is understood that FSU officials will meet Gerry Mallon, Ulster Bank’s chief executive in the Republic, on October 13th to discuss his vision for the bank. Separate talks with management in the North are also planned.

The redundancy terms provide for four weeks’ pay per year of service subject to a cap of 104 weeks and £300,000, or its euro equivalent.

In addition, a training grant of €2,500 will be available to departing staff to defray the cost of accredited training.

Avoid disputes

The deal also allows for third-party mediation to try to avoid disputes, and both sides have committed to more local engagement to ensure that staff have a clear view of its future business direction.

“Securing our negotiating and procedural agreement as well as the current prime redundancy terms provide us [with] a constructive basis for continuing to engage with the bank,” Gareth Murphy, an FSU senior industrial relations officer, told members in a memo on Wednesday.

“We know there are many issues and concerns out there, and we know that staff are under significant pressure. We are meeting with a number of senior people in the bank over the next few weeks to give them this feedback and discuss their business plans. We will also be commencing pay and reward negotiations shortly,” Mr Murphy added.

He said the union had highlighted the issue of work-related stress, with the FSU and the bank establishing a committee to consider “practical initiatives” to “improve this situation as a priority”.

Positive engagement

Speaking to The Irish Times, FSU general secretary Larry Broderick said the extended deal was aimed at fostering mutual trust and positive engagement between the union and the bank, at a time of continued significant change for the sector.

“A strong Ulster Bank depends upon the commitment of its staff to customers,” he said. “The agreement negotiated between FSU and the bank provides certainty and a framework from which both parties can contribute to the bank’s growth.”

At an industry conference this week, RBS chief executive Ross McEwan said reducing costs at Ulster Bank was a key aim. “We’re seeing good new business volumes growth, and costs are coming down. They’re down 2 per cent on like-for-like basis compared to last year,” he said.