Ulster Bank axes 950 jobs


Some 950 Ulster Bank workers are facing redundancy by the end of the
year in a second swathe of massive job cuts which trade unions branded
as breathtaking.

No branches are expected to close but 600 employees in the Republic of Ireland and 350 in Northern Ireland will be battling for their future.

Larry Broderick, general secretary of the Irish Bank Officials Association, said the impact of the latest round of cuts could be even more severe than the 1,000 lay-offs in 2009.

"The sheer magnitude of this second wave of proposed redundancies is breathtaking," he said.

Ulster Bank, a subsidiary of the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) which today announced a separate 3,500 job cuts in its investment wing, claimed it was taking the drastic action to remain competitive.

Branches are not expected to be closed, it added.

Arlene Foster, Northern Ireland Enterprise Minister, said such a significant number of job losses is very worrying.

"With front line staff facing redundancies, it is important that senior management in RBS are seen to be behaving in a responsible manner as the organisation moves forward," she said.

Mr Broderick said he will be seeking clarification from Ulster Bank's parent, RBS, on its commitment to Ireland.

"Our members feel very strongly that Ulster Bank staff are continuing to suffer for the mismanagement, incompetence and greed of senior management in Ulster Bank's parent company, RBS, which has been nationalised in all but name, as a result of the biggest collapse in British corporate history," Mr Broderick said.

RBS has been refinanced with £45.5 billion of British taxpayers' money and is more than 80% state-owned.

Ulster Bank, although a major player and loser in the Irish property boom and bust over the last decade, is not part of the Irish Government's bank bailout scheme or the bad-bank recovery plan through the National Asset Management Agency (Nama).

Two high profile plans it helped finance in the dying days of the boom were the sale of the Jury's hotel sites in Dublin's Ballsbridge, a reported 379 million euro deal led by property developer Sean Dunne, and a proposal to revamp a shopping district around Arnotts on the city's Henry Street.

In a statement, Ulster Bank said: "As local and global economies continue to deteriorate, these actions are being taken as part of the bank's overall business strategy to ensure the organisation is well placed to compete effectively in the market."

The bank hopes to secure all redundancies by the end of the year.

Negotiations with the IBOA, which represents 3,500 staff, begin tomorrow before redundancy offers are tabled. During the last round of cuts, the bank paid seven and a quarter weeks wages for every years of service.

An Ulster Bank spokeswoman insisted the target is to secure 950 voluntary redundancies.

It is believed the retail wing of the bank will bear the brunt with 446 lay-offs even though the bank insisted it does not have a list of potential branch closures. Elsewhere, Corporate Markets could lose 184 staff and the Chief Operating Office 155. The balance will be made up in other areas.

Mr Broderick added: "While those responsible have escaped with impunity - through golden parachutes and the like - and while those charged with restoring the fortunes of RBS are apparently due to be handsomely rewarded with generous bonuses, the ordinary staff throughout RBS have been called upon to bear a disproportionate amount of the pain."

Adrian Kane, insurance and finance sector organiser at trade union Siptu, said that the number of redundancies being sought is unacceptably high.

"The trade union movement was in a position during the good times to negotiate redundancy packages for workers that would tie people over until they found alternative employment," Mr Kane said.

"There are no realistic job opportunities for finance industry workers in the short-term in the current economic climate and, accordingly, we will be fighting to maintain jobs at all costs."

Ulster Bank has 1.9 million customers and employs about 6,000 staff through 236 branches, 59 business banking offices and over 1,200 ATMs.

Sinn Fein deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald said: "If the experience of the construction sector is anything to go by, where vast numbers of workers find their sector a job-free zone, then those in the banking sector who are about to lose their jobs must be looking on in despair."

The IBOA criticised the Dublin Government's jobs minister Richard Bruton and accused him of failing to engage with calls for a forum to look at practical measures to create jobs for laid off-financial workers.

Brian Hayes, a junior minister in the coalition, insisted the Ulster Bank redundancies were inevitable given the scale of losses in the banking sector worldwide.

"It's obviously a dreadful blow to the workers. Government will do everything it can, given the fact that this is not a covered institution, to make sure that the negotiations between workers and bank officials produce some result," he told RTE Radio.

"It's a difficult outworking of the financial crisis."


Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
election 2015The 10 best quotes of the campaign
A caravan being used as a polling station in Ford near Salisbury, during the 2010 election
election 2015The Independent's guide to get you through polling day
David Blunkett joins the Labour candidate for Redcar Anna Turley on a campaigning visit last month
voicesWhat I learnt from my years in government, by the former Home Secretary David Blunkett
ebooksA celebration of British elections
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Ashdown Group: Editor-in-chief - Financial Services - City, London

£60000 - £70000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, glo...

Ashdown Group: Junior Application Support Analyst - Fluent German Speaker

£25000 - £30000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: A global leader operating...

Guru Careers: Management Accountant

£27 - 35k + Bonus + Benefits: Guru Careers: A Management Accountant is needed ...

Guru Careers: Project Manager / Business Analyst

£40-50k + Benefits.: Guru Careers: A Project Manager / Business Analyst is nee...

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: ‘We will not sit down with Nicola Sturgeon’, says Ed Balls

'We will not sit down with Nicola Sturgeon'

In an exclusive interview, Ed Balls says he won't negotiate his first Budget with SNP MPs - even if Labour need their votes to secure its passage
VE Day 70th anniversary: How ordinary Britons celebrated the end of war in Europe

How ordinary Britons celebrated VE Day

Our perception of VE Day usually involves crowds of giddy Britons casting off the shackles of war with gay abandon. The truth was more nuanced
They came in with William Caxton's printing press, but typefaces still matter in the digital age

Typefaces still matter in the digital age

A new typeface once took years to create, now thousands are available at the click of a drop-down menu. So why do most of us still rely on the old classics, asks Meg Carter?
Discovery of 'missing link' between the two main life-forms on Earth could explain evolution of animals, say scientists

'Missing link' between Earth's two life-forms found

New microbial species tells us something about our dark past, say scientists
The Pan Am Experience is a 'flight' back to the 1970s that never takes off - at least, not literally

Pan Am Experience: A 'flight' back to the 70s

Tim Walker checks in and checks out a four-hour journey with a difference
Humans aren't alone in indulging in politics - it's everywhere in the animal world

Humans aren't alone in indulging in politics

Voting, mutual back-scratching, coups and charismatic leaders - it's everywhere in the animal world
Crisp sales are in decline - but this tasty trivia might tempt back the turncoats

Crisp sales are in decline

As a nation we're filling up on popcorn and pitta chips and forsaking their potato-based predecessors
Ronald McDonald the muse? Why Banksy, Ron English and Keith Coventry are lovin' Maccy D's

Ronald McDonald the muse

A new wave of artists is taking inspiration from the fast food chain
13 best picnic blankets

13 best picnic blankets

Dine al fresco without the grass stains and damp bottoms with something from our pick of picnic rugs
Barcelona 3 Bayern Munich 0 player ratings: Lionel Messi scores twice - but does he score highest in our ratings?

Barcelona vs Bayern Munich player ratings

Lionel Messi scores twice - but does he score highest in our ratings?
Martin Guptill: Explosive New Zealand batsman who sets the range for Kiwis' big guns

Explosive batsman who sets the range for Kiwis' big guns

Martin Guptill has smashed early runs for Derbyshire and tells Richard Edwards to expect more from the 'freakish' Brendon McCullum and his buoyant team during their tour of England
General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

On the margins

From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

Why patients must rely less on doctors

Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'