Union responds to Ulster Bank restructuring plan

Issued : 16 October 2014

Ulster Bank signage

IBOA The Finance Union has expressed serious concerns over two announcements made by Ulster Bank’s senior management to staff today involving some restructuring of its business banking operations and the offshoring of some support functions to other locations within the international structures of its parent company, RBS.

The Bank is proposing to reduce staffing in its Business Direct operations – which provides services to small and medium enterprises in both the Republic and Northern Ireland.
Under the changes proposed by the Bank, operations will transfer from Dublin and Limerick to Galway, while the headcount in the Belfast hub will also be reduced. The plan envisages that these changes will result in a net reduction in headcount of between 50 and 60 staff.

IBOA General Secretary, Larry Broderick, said that as well as the potential impact on the lives and livelihoods of a number of staff – especially in Dublin and Limerick – the proposal to reduce staff resources in this area could send a negative message to small and medium sized enterprises which should constitute a particular focus for support from the Bank.

“While management has highlighted the options of voluntary redundancy and redeployment to the affected employees, we have a concern that the limited option of relocation to Galway will not be available for most staff and that in the possible absence of suitable alternative roles, many may feel pressured into accepting ‘voluntary’ redundancy or face a reduction in salary.

“Recent proposals on restructuring from independent mediator, Mark Connaughton, which have been accepted by Ulster Bank management have yet to be agreed by IBOA. The Union has sought further clarifications on a number of issues from the mediator.

“In parallel with the announcement on business banking, management has also indicated that it intends to offshore various support functions from Belfast and Dublin to India and Manchester. Management has advised that this will have a direct negative impact on staff numbers because of the combined effect of natural wastage and redeployment of staff to take on additional work. However, clearly if this work was not being outsourced, further job opportunities could be created on the island of Ireland,” said the Union leader.

“We took some encouragement earlier this from comments from senior executives in Ulster Bank about the potential for attracting work from the larger RBS group to these shores. Unfortunately today’s announcement seems to suggest that any work that may be brought to Northern Ireland or the Republic is likely at best to compensate for work leaving these shores.

“We have sought clarification from management on both of these issues. The Union’s objective in both cases is to minimise any adverse impacts on staff as far as possible by preserving jobs and maintaining the terms and conditions of our members,” said Mr. Broderick.