Business

Union expresses concern over NatWest plan to transfer Belfast roles to GB

Ulster Bank's Belfast headquarters. Picture by Hugh Russell.

A UNION has expressed concern over the fate of hundreds of Ulster Bank jobs in Belfast after its parent owner NatWest confirmed it will transfer nine roles from Northern Ireland to Britain.

NatWest said nine business banking employees in Belfast are in line to lose their job.

The Financial Services Union (FSU) said the functions will now be moved to Bolton and other locations in Britain.

It comes amid continued uncertainty over the future of around 600 contact centre jobs in Belfast, which directly service the Ulster Bank operation in the Republic.

NatWest is already in the process of winding down the Ulster Bank business across the border ahead of complete withdrawal later this year.

It remains unclear how many roles will transfer to other functions elsewhere in the NatWest operation.

Calling on the FSU to reverse the transfer of the nine jobs, Gareth Murphy, the union's head of industrial relations, claimed it displayed “a complete disregard” for staff in Belfast and for local customers.

The union said the jobs relate to the bank's commercial and corporate coverage customer services division.

“NatWest, and Ulster Bank, seem set to allow these roles to be conducted from Bolton, Birmingham, Rotherham, and Manchester but deny the same opportunity for staff in Belfast,” said Mr Murphy.

NatWest said the roles mainly focus on less complex account maintenance activities, now largely handled through digital channels.

It said more complex queries are handled by other teams across its group, in the same way Northern Ireland staff can handle queries for the wider NatWest group.

But the FSU said it sets a precedent for the 600 at-risk jobs in Belfast.

“NatWest cannot be allowed to continue the practice of moving jobs from Belfast to other jurisdictions,” said Mr Murphy.

“Instead of moving roles from Belfast, NatWest need to agree plans with the FSU to protect and enhance these roles.

“The impact of these potential job losses will have a real detrimental effect on families and the local economy. “

In response, a spokesperson from Ulster Bank said: “We have taken the difficult decision to invite applications for redundancy for nine customer contact roles in our business banking team.

“We will support those colleagues who apply with a comprehensive support package.”

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