Ulster Bank cuts 950 jobs in Irish business

Thursday 12 January 2012 16.41
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Ulster Bank's retail division to take biggest jobs hit
Ulster Bank's retail division to take biggest jobs hit
RBS to cut 3,500 jobs as it changes wholesale banking operations
RBS to cut 3,500 jobs as it changes wholesale banking operations
IBOA's Larry Broderick wants RBS to clarify commitment to Ireland
IBOA's Larry Broderick wants RBS to clarify commitment to Ireland
RBS CEO Stephen Hester talks of new pressures
RBS CEO Stephen Hester talks of new pressures

Ulster Bank has confirmed that it will to cut its workforce by 950 staff by the end of the year. 600 employees in the Republic are to be made redundant, while 350 jobs are proposed to go in Northern Ireland.

The bank blames the deterioration in local and global economies for its need to cut jobs in both the Republic and the North, and says the actions are being taken to ensure it is able to compete effectively in the Irish market.

Ulster Bank has said that it expects to implement its 950 redundancies by the end of the year. A spokesperson told RTÉ that compulsory redundancies could not be ruled out and would depend on the level of take-up of the redundancy scheme.

The spokesperson said the bank had no plans at present to reduce its branch network around the country but that it was a matter that was kept under review. The spokesperson added that terms of the redundancy package would be a matter for consultation.

Ulster Bank has 1.9 million customers on the island of Ireland and currently employs 6,000 staff. Staff were notified of the scale of the losses through messages on the company intranet as they arrived for work this morning.

Larry Broderick, general secretary of IBOA which represents the majority of Ulster Bank staff, said that his members were shocked by the scale of the job cuts being proposed by management.

"While we anticipated that the bank would seek some restructuring of its operations in view of the continuing difficulties in its business performance, the sheer magnitude of this second wave of proposed redundancies is breath-taking," he said.

He said he wanted answers on how the cuts will help the bank's declared commitments on enhanced services to customers which were promoted in recent ad campaigns.

He also said the union would be seeking clarification from Ulster Bank's parent, RBS, on its commitment to Ireland.

"Our members feel very strongly that Ulster Bank staff are continuing to suffer for the mismanagement, incompetence and greed of senior management in Ulster Bank's parent company, RBS, which has been nationalised in all but name, as a result of the biggest collapse in British corporate history," Mr Broderick said.

This is the second major wave of job losses at Ulster Bank after it announced 1,000 redundancies in 2009.

Retail division to take biggest jobs hit

RTÉ News has learnt that Ulster Bank Retail Markets will bear the largest share of the redundancies announced today. The bank plans to axe 446 jobs at this division.

Ulster Bank Corporate Markets will lose 184 employees. The Chief Operating Office will lose 155 staff, while the Credit and Market Risk division will see a cut of 60. Group Finance will shed 58 personnel, with Corporate Affairs losing 10.

The APS division will lose 26 people, Ulster Bank Regulatory and Operation Risk will lose six and the Global Restructuring Group will lose five. The total reduction comes to 597 in the Republic and 353 in the North.

RBS to cut 3,500 jobs in major overhaul

Ulster Bank's parent Royal Bank of Scotland said earlier this morning it would cut about 3,500 more jobs over the next three years as the group shrinks its investment banking activities as part of a major overhaul.

The lender, which is 82% owned by the UK government, also outlined plans to reorganise its wholesale banking operations into two divisions - Markets and International Banking - and downsize or cease other selected activities.

The company will exit businesses including cash equities, corporate broking, equity capital markets, and mergers and acquisitions. It will also implement "significant" reductions in its balance sheet, funding requirements and costs.

"RBS has today announced changes to its wholesale banking operations to ensure they continue to deliver against the group's strategy," said a statement.

The statement also said that the bank's core retail and commercial businesses - outside Ireland - are now operating with an attractive return on equity overall.

RBS has slashed around 34,000 jobs since October 2008 when it was rescued by the British taxpayer. The group was ravaged by the global financial crisis and the takeover of Dutch giant ABN Amro at the top of the market in 2007.

The new job losses comes amid reports that Global Banking and Markets boss John Hourican was due to pick up £4m sterling in long-term incentive shares that he was awarded in 2009.

The structural overhaul is aimed at meeting the ring-fencing requirements announced by the Independent Commission on Banking and adopted by the UK government last year.

The ICB recommended that banks should separate their retail and investment divisions to help prevent a repeat of the global financial crisis that triggered massive state bail-outs.

"It is clear that, particularly in the wholesale banking arena, significant new pressures have emerged," RBS chief executive Stephen Hester said in today's statement.

"The changes we are announcing today seek to ensure that RBS is at the front of the pack in pursuing a strategy that reflects the environment we expect to operate in. Our goal from these changes is to be more focused for customers, more conservatively funded, more efficient and with better, more stable returns for shareholders overall," he said.

Further details will be provided in the bank's annual results that are due on February 23. The new plans will begin immediately but may take up to three years to implement.

Britain's financial watchdog said in a key report last month that RBS had almost collapsed due to poor management, particularly over the ill-fated ABN Amro takeover, and also weak regulation.

The Financial Services Authority, seeking to address what went wrong in the run-up to the lender's massive £45.5-billion state bail-out, said RBS had conducted "inadequate" due diligence into ABN Amro.

The FSA also called for tougher rules to make bankers more accountable for their actions.

Deadline for IBRC redundancy applications

Today is the deadline for Irish Bank Resolution Corporation employees to apply for a voluntary redundancy scheme which is looking for 130 redundancies in its Irish operations this year. The bank, formerly known as Anglo Irish Bank, wants to cut 350 jobs overall this year, with the remainder coming from other locations.

This will be achieved by disposing of some businesses like the US loan book, along with other job cuts in Britain. The bank is not commenting on how many applications it has received.

Barclays cuts 422 IT jobs to add to UK bank cull

Barclays is cutting up to 422 staff in technology support to add to a grim day for UK bank jobs after thousands of redundancies were announced by rival Royal Bank of Scotland.

Barclays said the cuts are due to a restructuring of its technology and infrastructure division and most of the jobs affected are in Britain, with some overseas. It said it will attempt to redeploy staff and limit compulsory redundancies.

The Unite trade union slammed the cuts and the bank's decision to move some of the roles to Lithuania.