Bank insists it can cut 1,800 staff without redundancies
ULSTER Bank has insisted it can reach its target for a massive reduction in staff numbers without making any workers redundant.
The third largest bank in the country plans to cut between 1,300 and 1,800 of its workers on the island.
It is currently in the process of laying off 950 workers.
This means it will need to further reduce its staff numbers by between 350 and 850 to meet its targets.
A spokeswoman for Ulster Bank said it was confident the target of getting staffing numbers down from 5,800 to between 4,500 and 4,000 by 2016.
"The remaining decrease in headcount should be met through natural attrition over the remaining course of the strategic plan," the bank said.
Natural attrition is where staff that leave for another job or retire are not replaced.
But head of the IBOA banking union Larry Broderick questioned how the bank could achieve the latest reductions in staff numbers through natural attrition.
"Bearing in mind that a major restructuring programme involving 950 job losses is already under way, and a similar programme resulting in just under 1,000 job losses was completed in 2010, it remains to be seen whether natural attrition could produce further job losses on the scale being contemplated," said Mr Broderick.
The union was seeking an urgent meeting with bank management to emphasis that existing agreements meant any job losses should be voluntary.
The bank, which has 1.3 million customers in the Republic, is also planning to close another 40 branches across the island, mainly in rural areas. This is on top of 22 being closed at present. At the end of this process the bank expects to end up with between 175 and 185 branches.
But Mr Broderick said rural areas losing branches tended to have poor broadband provision.
And Labour senator Lorraine Higgins accused the bank of having contempt for its workforce. She was angry the bank had so far not given a breakdown of where these closures will occur and the exact numbers associated with each closure.
Senator Higgins said: "Ulster Bank has nothing but contempt for its workforce."
Northern Ireland's deputy first minister Martin McGuinness said the bank had treated its workers and customers badly. "The way it was made public was absolutely disgusting," he said.