IBOA alarmed at scale of job cuts proposed in Ulster Bank

Issued : 12 January 2012

Ulster Bank's announcement today that it is to seek a further 950 redundancies on top of the 1,000 already negotiated in 2009 has come as a major shock to staff throughout the institution.

Larry Broderick, General Secretary of IBOA The Finance Union which represents the majority of Ulster Bank staff, said that his members were shocked by the scale of the job cuts being proposed by management.

"While we anticipated that the Bank would seek some restructuring of its operations in view of the continuing difficulties in its business performance, the sheer magnitude of this second wave of proposed redundancies is breath-taking," he said.

"While we welcome the Bank's commitment to engage with us on its proposals, we will be entering these negotiations with a number of clear objectives. Our first objective will be to protect as many jobs as possible. We will be seeking a detailed analysis from management of the rationale for further job cuts on this scale (600 in the Irish Republic and 350 in Northern Ireland). While we will ask the Bank to consider alternatives to redundancy, we will also seek clarification as to how its new business plan will meet its declared commitment on enhanced services to customers - made in extensive publicity campaigns in recent months - if employee numbers are reduced to this extent.

"Our second objective will be to ensure that any job reduction will be implemented on a voluntary basis and on terms in line with the sectoral norms.

"Our third objective will be to ensure appropriate terms and conditions of employment for the staff who will remain in Ulster Bank after the proposed restructure. While the departure of close to 1,000 staff in 2009 had a major impact on the Bank's day-to-day operations, the consequences of today's announcement could be even more far-reaching for staff and customers.

"IBOA will also seek further clarification from Ulster Bank's parent, RBS, as to its continuing commitment to its Irish operations in the light of these restructuring proposals.

"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."

"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. In Ulster Bank, too, rank-and-file staff are again being asked to make the lion's share of the sacrifices being demanded to restore the Bank to health.

"With over 6,000 jobs already lost in the financial services sector since the autumn of 2008, and with similar losses likely in the short- to medium-term arising from the substantial reductions already flagged at AIB, IBRC and Bank of Ireland and likely elsewhere, it is vital that the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Trade acts upon IBOA's request for a forum or task force to consider practical measures which might generate alternative employment opportunities for these workers. The Minister's reluctance to engage with us on this matter is in effect penalising financial sector staff once more for the reckless behaviour of their bosses," said the IBOA leader.