Unite the union has expressed ‘deep concern and solidarity’ for the 3,000 employees working for the Ulster Bank as NatWest announces its exit from the Republic of Ireland today (Friday 19 February).

Unite, Britain and Ireland’s largest union, also called for a moratorium on job losses across the NatWest Group as it announced a £351 million pre-tax loss.

Unite national officer for finance Rob MacGregor said: Today is very disappointing for our colleagues working in Ulster Bank in the Republic of Ireland who are members of the Financial Services Union (FSU).

“NatWest has declared its intention to exit the Republic of Ireland and so wind down Ulster Bank leaving 3,000 workers unsure of their futures. We send our support and solidarity to FSU in its fight to save jobs.   

“It is a matter of deep concern not just for the staff, but the bank’s customers, given that Ulster Bank has roots stretching back to the 1830s. 

“We call on NatWest to ensure that TUPE transfer of jobs will apply in all sales or disposals of assets that happen as a result of their decision to exit.

“NatWest must allow Ulster Bank to engage with FSU and negotiate agreements that protect jobs and minimise any redundancies. Unite supports FSU’s demands and all those staff facing uncertainty today."

In a separate move, Unite has written to the NatWest Group chief executive Alison Rose calling for a moratorium on all restructuring and job losses until the full impact of the pandemic on the NatWest business has been evaluated.

The letter said: “Throughout the pandemic our members, have been pillars of strength and certainty for the NatWest Group, adapting, changing and working at pace to ensure they were there for bank customers when they needed them the most.

“However, many of your NatWest colleagues are understandably worried about their futures. They are dealing with reduced income and family unemployment caused by the Covid crisis.

“They have wrestled with the challenges of homeworking, home schooling and the debilitating impact of the prolonged lockdown. 

“It is not just the pandemic that has tested the resilience of the workforce.

Years of constant change and restructuring, coupled with thousands of job losses, branch cuts and office closures, has had a marked impact on your staff.”

Unite also called on Ms Rose to work with employee representatives to develop a home working policy that reflects the new world of work and ensures a mutually beneficial work/life balance.

The bank - formerly the Royal Bank of Scotland and still 62 per cent taxpayer-owned - posted a pre-tax loss of £351m and has set aside £3.2bn for bad loans. However, the bank said it will resume making dividend payments to shareholders. 

ENDS

Notes to editors:

For more information please contact Unite senior communications officer Shaun Noble on 020 3371 2060 or 07768 693940. Unite press office is on:  020 3371 2065.

Please note the numbers above are for journalists’ enquiries only.

Email: shaun.noble@unitetheunion.org

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Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest union with members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.