Financial Services Union meet with the Governor of the Central Bank

23 September 2022

Deadlines for exit of Ulster Bank and KBC need to be extended says FSU

Representatives of the Financial Services Union (FSU) have today met with the Governor of the Central Bank. The meeting discussed the future of retail banking in Ireland, with the current position surrounding the exits of KBC and Ulster Bank (UB) and the urgent need to update the Central Bank Consumer Protection Code high on the agenda.

The meeting took place against the backdrop that the first tranche of people effected by the closure of Ulster Bank are due to have their accounts frozen in October when the six-month deadline set by Ulster Bank expires.

John OConnell, General Secretary of the FSU commented:

“The meeting was informative and helpful in that it provided the Central Bank an opportunity to update the FSU on data relating to the exits of both banks and for the FSU to put forward our view on what needs to happen next. We took the opportunity to assure the Governor that the FSU and our members were anxious to ensure as orderly an exit as possible for both banks but that inadequate timelines, under staffing and work pressures continue to be of concern.

We were heartened to hear that a timeframe has now being set for the revision of the Consumer Protection Code and we look forward to participating in the consultation phrase.

We made several constructive suggestions at the meeting including:

  • An extension to the Ulster Bank six-month deadline, to ensure that no person is cut off from accessing their own money. The first tranche of people will reach their six-month deadline for moving their account in the second week in October. There can be no circumstances allowed that would see people, especially older and more vulnerable people cut off from access to their own money.
  • The publication on a weekly basis of the data on account opening and closing and call centre waiting times. We will be meeting Jane Howard, CEO of Ulster Bank next week and will be impressing on her the need for a transparent and inclusive process that includes publication of account opening and closing on a weekly basis.
  • The publication of the net additional resources employed by each bank to deal with the extra workload. This needs to be done to give customers confidence that the resources are in place in each bank to help them through this major logistical change.
  • The adoption of an open transparent model of engagement on the future of banking involving all relevant stakeholders. Stakeholder banking is common across the EU. A new Governance framework involving workers and consumer directors on the boards would put the voices of customers, business, and staff at the centre of decision making.
  • We highlighted our budget submission and in particular the issue of variable pay restrictions, which effect 23,000 bank staff which we wish to see lifted

Staff and consumer voices need to be heard if trust in the sector is to be rebuilt and retail banking is to become a job of choice for the next generation.”