Ulster Bank says 950 jobs to go on island of Ireland

Ulster Bank Ulster Bank, the third-largest bank in Ireland, is owned by Royal Bank of Scotland.

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The Ulster Bank is planning to cut its workforce in Northern Ireland and the Republic by 950 staff.

350 jobs will go in Northern Ireland while the remaining 600 will be lost in the Irish Republic. The figure represents around 15% of the company's 6,000 staff across Ireland.

The announcement is the latest round of job losses at the bank which is owned by Royal Bank of Scotland.

RBS is cutting around 3,500 jobs over the next three years.

Of the 6,000 Ulster Bank staff, over 2,000 are employed in Northern Ireland.

Staff at the bank were told the news on Thursday morning and given details of the terms of the lay-offs.

In a statement the bank said the cuts were necessary following a "review of its operating model".

"As local and global economies continue to deteriorate, these actions are being taken as part of the bank's overall business strategy to ensure the organisation is well placed to compete effectively in the market and continues to serve the needs of its 1.9m customers across the island of Ireland through its extensive branch and business centre network," it said.

Analysis

Ulster Bank was heavily exposed to the Irish property boom and bust.

In the first nine months of 2011 the bank wrote off more than £1bn in bad loans, mainly related to property.

It was the RBS division with the single biggest write-off in that period.

The bank was growing at an annual rate of 26% in the years leading up to the financial crisis.

Only RBS's investment banking division was growing at a faster rate between 2004 and 2008.

At the end of 2004 Ulster Bank had assets of £27.7bn which surged to £55bn by the end of 2007.

Impact

Larry Broderick, from the Finance Union, the Irish Bank Officials' Association (IBOA), said it was a "very dark day for staff and customers" of Ulster Bank.

"It will impact on retail as well as head offices," he said.

"We're actually shocked at this announcement and the scale of it."

Mr Broderick said the IBOA would be lobbying for discussions.

"We will be seeking talks between the Irish PM, the assembly and the UK finance minister and the British prime minister to review this in the context of the need to have a good retail structure like Ulster Bank remain, particularly in Northern Ireland," he added.

Sinn Fein economy spokesman Conor Murphy said: "I will be asking Minister Arlene Foster what steps she intends to take to engage with management on the issue on behalf of the workers.

"I want to know what initiatives she is going to take to ensure that these workers and all of the other workers who have lost their jobs in this recession have a future, that their families have a future."

The SDLP's Alban Maginness added: "Ulster Bank slimmed down its workforce in 2009 by a significant amount and less than two years later staff are faced with further job losses.

"With those who created the crisis in investment banking still being richly rewarded, why are low-paid staff on the frontline of banking having to pay the cost?"

Ulster Bank, the third-largest bank in Ireland, is owned by Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS).

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