Ulster Bank to close business hubs with job losses expected

Dublin and Limerick centres to be affected and back-office roles to go

Ulster Bank returned to profit in the first half of this year, for the first time since the crash in late 2008.

Ulster Bank returned to profit in the first half of this year, for the first time since the crash in late 2008.

 

Ciarán Hancock, Finance Correspondent

Ulster Bank has informed staff today of its plan to close its business hubs in Dublin and Limerick, in a move that will affect 65 positions and result in a number of voluntary redundancies.

The institution, which is owned by Royal Bank of Scotland, intends to retain and beef up its business hubs in Galway and Belfast.

In addition, Ulster Bank is planning to outsource some back office functions to shared services units operated by RBS in the UK and India. There will be no job losses as a result of this move with staff here expected to be redeployed to other roles.

In a statement issued to The Irish Times about the changes, Ulster Bank said: “Ulster Bank confirms that two operational hubs are planned to close in the Republic of Ireland (Limerick and Dublin), with all operations moving to existing hubs at Galway and Belfast.

“There will be a number of job losses as a consequence of this change. The bank will manage this on a volunteer-led basis within the existing framework [agreed with its unions] and affected staff have been invited to relocate, apply for voluntary severance or apply for an alternative role in the bank.”

On the outsourcing of certain activities, the bank said: “Separately, Ulster Bank is expanding capacity across a number of processing areas to better serve our customers. As part of this, some of the work currently carried out in support operations will be now be carried out in our existing shared services unit. There are no redundancies as part of this.”

These moves by Ulster Bank flow from an “organisation change agreement” for the period out to 2016 that was announced in August following recommendations by an independent mediator, which have yet to be accepted by the Irish Bank Officials Association.

The recommendations followed more than four months of talks between Ulster Bank senior management and the IBOA, and were drawn up by Mark Connaughton, a senior counsel. They cover the terms and processes that will govern plans by Ulster Bank to restructure its operations on the island.

In terms of redundancy payments, the bank will offer four weeks pay per year of service, inclusive of statutory entitlements, subject to a cap of 104 weeks.

Ulster Bank returned to profit in the first half of this year, for the first time since the crash in late 2008. It employs about 5,600 staff on the island but is planning to reduce this to about 4,000 to 4,500 over time.