Ulster Bank plans to cut 266 jobs to reduce costs



a group of people walking on a sidewalk


© Niall Carson


ULSTER BANK HAS has confirmed that it plans to cut 266 jobs on the island in a bid to rein in costs.

The bank, a wholly-owned subsidiary of the London-listed NatWest Group, which employs 2,900 people in Ireland, has informed staff of a new restructuring plan.

It is understood that some 216 jobs are to be shed in the Republic and 53 in the North. Some 57 new roles will also be created, 29 in the south and 28 in the North.

Commenting, a spokesperson for the bank said, “We have announced the next phase of our programme to reduce our costs which includes operational changes and a reduction of 266 roles, which we aim to achieve on a voluntary redundancy basis, where possible.

“A small number of roles have also been created. We know this is difficult news for our colleagues and we are doing everything we can to support those affected by the changes.” 

Last month, Ulster Bank announced that it incurred a loss of €276 million in the first six months of the year.

It said that the losses mainly related to a decision set aside €278 million in ‘impairment charges’ in anticipation of a wave of defaults as a result of Covid-19.

Commenting on today’s announcement, Gareth Murphy, Head of Industrial Relations and Campaigns at the Financial Services Union, said the union had negotiated the terms of the redundancy agreement with the bank.

It is understood that the bank has engaged fully with the union, which represents 15,000 workers in the financial services sector.

Murphy said, “All redundancies are disappointing and upsetting for those affected, their families and their colleagues, but this is especially so during a pandemic.

“We have, and will continue, to engage with the bank to reduce the overall number of redundancies and to ensure everyone, including those remaining, are treated with the dignity and respect they deserve.

“We are actively working with the employer to reduce and mitigate job losses through looking at voluntary reduction of hours, job sharing, annualised hours, job locations and other initiatives that workers might opt for to suit their work-life balance and reduce some loss of jobs.”

It comes just a month after a similar announcement by Bank of Ireland, which plans to shed 1,400 jobs through a voluntary redundancy scheme. 

Last month, the FSU has said that it engaged with the main retail banks at the start of the pandemic to secure a temporary pause on redundancies.

In July, FSU general secretary John O’Connell told TheJournal.ie that “most of the banks” including Ulster Bank, “agreed with us that it was ‘all hands to the pump’, and that this wasn’t the time for redundancies”.

He said that the union had existing change management agreements with the banks, which “grew out of the last crisis and have stood ourselves and the banks well as we work through challenges and changes like digitalisation, increased competition and so forth”.

Ulster Bank also announced during the summer that it would seek 40 redundancies at its Northern Irish branches.

Ulster Bank Northern Ireland, which operates separately from Ulster Bank in the south, had 85 branches in 2009. It currently has 44 locations.

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