Issued : 23 November 2016

UBG Danesfort

A proposal by Ulster Bank to pass on additional pension costs to its employees has been rejected by the Financial Services Union (FSU), opening up the possibility of industrial action in the New Year.

RBS, Ulster Bank’s parent company, is planning to pass increased employer pension costs on to its staff. The proposal would cost the affected Northern Ireland Ulster Bank staff an additional £1m annually.

Following almost a year of negotiations, including a third party compromise that RBS turned down, but the Union accepted, FSU members of the Bank’s defined benefit pension scheme have voted overwhelmingly to reject the proposal. The rejection comes at a critical time during pay negotiations.

FSU Senior Official, Gareth Murphy, said:

“This is an employer cost which should not be passed on to staff. It’s as simple as that. In the interests of securing an agreement, however, FSU members voted to accept a recommendation from an independent mediator to share the costs 50:50 with the employer. We are appalled that Ulster Bank rejected this compromise.

“There is one last chance to resolve this issue during our current difficult pay negotiations with the Bank. We have reflected the pension charge in our pay claim and we ask Ulster Bank to view this fairly and as an opportunity to avoid potential industrial action in the New Year.”

FSU General Secretary, Larry Broderick, added his call to avoid a dispute and resolve it through a pay settlement:

"Our members have clearly spoken through a ballot, and Ulster Bank and RBS should listen. We have a chance to resolve this dispute and a mature employer should take this opportunity.

“Staff are key to the Bank’s recovery and right now morale is at an all-time low, as evidenced by a recent staff survey which scored Ulster Bank very poorly. Senior management needs to show leadership and resolve this issue.”

RBS is proposing to pass a 2% pension charge on to staff following changes to UK National Insurance. The Bank wants to achieve this through four separate monthly 0.5% pay cuts to be applied between 2017 and 2018.

Affected FSU members were balloted over a three and a half week period ending last Friday (18th November).