Irish

Saturday 26 July 2014

Fresh fears of sweeping jobs cull at Ulster Bank

Donal O'Donovan

Published 22/02/2014|02:30

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Ross McEwan

THE 6,500 staff at Ulster Bank face "renewed fear and anxiety" at the prospect of sweeping jobs cuts they worry could be announced by the bank next week, unions said this week.

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Yesterday, the head of Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS), which owns Ulster Bank, was forced to write to staff across the bank in an effort to reassure them about its plans.

In an internal memo, chief executive Ross McEwan said there would be "no big announcement" on job cuts next week. "The focus of next week will be about explaining our ambition to become a great bank for customers," the memo said.

Speculation about job cuts was "frustrating and unsettling," he wrote in the note. Mr McEwan has told bank staff in Ireland that any further cuts here would be subject to negotiation with unions, according to the Irish Bank Officials Association (IBOA), a trade union.

But the bank's staff and customers here have been left fearful about the situation, according to the IBOA.

"The prospect of further cuts to employment in Ulster Bank – on top of the 1,600 jobs already lost in the bank in the last four years – is a source of renewed fear and anxiety for these workers who had believed that the worst of the restructuring was behind them," IBOA general secretary Larry Broderick said. The IBOA represents a majority of Ulster Bank employees. Mr Broderick said Mr McEwan had written to assure him that a Procedural Agreement struck with unions last year would be used in any further restructuring at Ulster Bank.

The agreement sets out rules for industrial relations negotiations, including recourse to independent mediation, in the event of a deadlock.

Fears about jobs cuts across Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS), which owns Ulster Bank, come as the results of a strategic review of the bank is due to be published on Thursday.

The 'Financial Times' in London reported yesterday that 30,000 jobs could be cut following the review.

That dramatic downsizing from the current total of 120,000 employees would come from the bank pulling-out of dozens of countries and dramatically shrinking its investment banking arm, according to the 'Financial Times'.

The plan includes selling off Citizens Bank in the US which has close to 20,000 staff, the report said.

RBS is 81pc-owned by the UK government, which is pushing the bank to become smaller and more UK focused.

But the bank has already said the plan will not involve a pull-out of Ireland. It is widely expected to slim the Irish unit, however. In January, Ulster Bank said it was cutting 110 job in Ireland, by shifting functions to Scotland and the bank has said it will shut up to 40 branches across the Republic and Northern Ireland this year.

Irish Independent

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