Business

Thursday: 'No cuts at Ulster Bank'. Friday: 'Actually 60 jobs will go'

Ulster Bank is seeking 60 redundancies across Northern Ireland
Gary McDonald Business Editor

JUST hours after seemingly being assured that all their jobs were safe, staff at Ulster Bank were told yesterday that 60 posts are to go in the north.

On Thursday is appeared Northern Ireland would emerge unscathed from a jobs cull revealed by Ulster Bank’s state-backed parent company Royal Bank of Scotland.

The bailed-out financial giant said it was shedding almost 600 jobs in its UK retail bank in the latest round of restructuring and branch closures, but said the cuts would occur in NatWest branches in northern, south east or eastern England, the Midlands or London.

But yesterday afternoon senior management in Ulster Bank informed staff that it intends to seek up to 60 voluntary redundancies from staff in its Northern Ireland branch network.

And from May 7 it is also ending Saturday opening hours at its branches in Armagh, Ballymena, Bangor, Coleraine, Downpatrick, Dungannon, Enniskillen, Magherafelt, Newtownards, Omagh and Portadown.

In a statement the bank said: "As part of ongoing efforts to build a strong and sustainable bank, we are offering members of our branch staff the opportunity to apply for a small number of redundancies on a strictly voluntary basis."

However, banking union IBOA said it is "extremely concerned" about the impact the changes will have on customers, as well as the increased workload for remaining staff.

Union general secretary Larry Broderick said: "For some time now we have been been raising the issue of under-staffing in the branch network, which has resulted in lengthening the queues for customers.

"This latest development will only exacerbate existing difficulties and undermine Ulster Bank’s ambition of being “number one for customer service, trust and advocacy.”

In a communication to members, IBOA has also highlighted the likelihood that the problems identified in a recent stress audit of staff in Ulster Bank will increase as a result of this move.

Mr Broderick added: “Staff in retail banking are the human face of Ulster Bank who engage directly with customers every minute of every day. They know the challenges customers face and do their utmost to help and provide quality service to customer.

“Reducing the number of staff in these crucial roles is not sustainable in the long term. It is being driven by a short-term cost-cutting agenda.”

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