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Banking Union: “Very Serious” risk of Ulster Bank closure or carve up

According to the Financial Services Union (FSU), recent meetings with Ulster Bank have been “difficult and deeply troubling”, with a growing threat of the bank being closed or carved up.

John O’Connell, the FSU’s General Secretary, said that Ulster Bank CEO Jane Howard refused to answer any questions in private meetings about recent media reports, which claim that Ulster Bank’s parent company NatWest is looking to wind down its Irish unit, with banking rival Permanent TSB rumoured to be seeking a bid for the franchise.

In a statement, O’Connell said that Ulster Bank staff are under considerable “anxiety” and “stress”, which he says he conveyed to Ms. Howard in the meeting.

“The situation is now very serious. The threat of a closure or carve-up of the bank is growing, and this will seriously impact communities, customers, staff, and businesses all over Ireland,” he said.

“The manner in which people have been treated here is totally unacceptable. This union will not stand by while loyal staff are treated so poorly. Their loyalty, commitment and wellbeing need to be central to the review process.”

O’Connell went on to claim that staff were being asked to do work to assist the sale or carve up of the bank, and being asked to sign non-disclosure agreements so they couldn’t even talk about it publicly.

“The FSU clearly stated in the meeting that a carve-up of the bank’s assets is not an acceptable outcome and under no circumstances should a vulture fund be able to get its hands on any part of the loan book. If NatWest decides to exit the Irish market, any solution needs to involve the maximum protection for customers, for jobs and the branch structure.”

The union called on Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe, as well as Ireland’s Central Bank, to make a statement on the matter, as what is taking place “[could not] be allowed to slip under the radar.”

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