Ulster Bank to cull 110 jobs as arrears unit moves abroad
ALMOST 110 Ulster Bank employees were told they were being made redundant yesterday as the lender moves a mortgage arrears unit to Scotland. The news came a day after the bank's UK parent warned of bigger-than-expected losses.
Struggling Irish householders will be dealt with by staff in Edinburgh after the bank culls numbers at its mortgage centre in Sandyford.
A small number of staff will also go in Belfast while 30 will be redeployed as "field agents" involved in collection work.
The bank said the cuts were part of its overall restructuring process announced last January, when workers were warned that up to 900 jobs would go.
"Ulster Bank continues to implement the agreed changes to our operating model and has today communicated some changes to our staff," a spokeswoman added.
Further redundancies, outsourcing, pay cuts, and branch closures are feared when RBS announces the results of a strategic review of the Irish bank's operations next month.
Ulster Bank was one of the biggest mortgage lenders during the boom and it is now desperately trying to recoup the money lent here.
Banking workers union, the Irish Bank Officials Association (IBOA), raised concerns about the plans.
"The staff who work in the retail problem debt management unit are involved in mortgage arrears negotiation," said IBOA leader Larry Broderick.
"This is demanding work which requires sensitive handling. We are concerned that units based overseas may not be as attentive or understanding of the needs of customers experiencing significant difficulties with their mortgages."
Banking sources also claimed RBS staff in Edinburgh had been dealing with Irish customers on a daily basis for the last two years.
But the IBOA warned outsourcing had not always delivered for Ulster Bank's customers.
"They will not easily forget the meltdown on the bank's outsourced IT systems in the summer of 2012," Mr Broderick added.
The union has asked Ulster Bank management to defer any decisions until RBS completes a major ongoing review of operations in Ireland.
Ulster Bank parent Royal Bank of Scotland warned this week that it was on track for its largest pre-tax loss since 2008 after setting aside £3.1bn (€3.7bn) for legal and compensation claims.
More than five years after giving RBS the biggest bank bailout in history, the British government still hasn't been able to cut its 80pc stake.