Minister should clarify if he raised Ulster Bank loan book sale reports with company management

21 October 2020
  • Ulster Bank management must engage meaningfully with Financial Services Union (FSU) at the earliest opportunity
  • Moratorium on economic lay-offs needed for banking sector, starting with banks part-owned by State

Labour’s Finance Spokesperson Ged Nash TD has called on the Minister for Finance to clarify if he raised reports of a possible sell-off of Ulster Bank’s loan book to the Cerberus ‘vulture fund’ in a meeting with company management today. 

Deputy Nash said:

“Today’s meeting between the Minister for Finance and Ulster Bank while welcome has led to little clarity for staff or the communities they serve. 

“The truth is we now know as much about Ulster Bank’s intentions in Ireland as we did before the meeting took place. 

“The announcement last month of NatWest’s review alarmed staff, the Financial Services Union and Ulster Bank’s customers across the country. 

“This strategic review is all the more alarming given recent reports that a vulture fund,  Cerberus Capital Management, is now circling Ulster Bank’s loan book. 

“The Minister must clarify whether he issued a hands-off warning in today’s meeting with the head of Ulster Bank, given the scarring experience of Irish home and business owners at the hands of such funds in recent years.

“The possibility of the bank pulling out of Ireland will impact on competition too and is not a good vista for the SME sector at the start of another lockdown period. 

“Such a decision would also be a smack in the face of loyal Ulster Bank staff and would come as a hammer blow to customers and local businesses who depend on the vital services provided by staff in local branches right across the country. Everything that can be done should be done to protect the future of the bank here.

“Banks should not be using the COVID-19 crisis as cover to restructure their operations and push through more redundancies. In August, I publicly called on all banks, including Ulster Bank, to agree to a 12-month moratorium on layoffs to protect workers during the worst of COVID-19. Ulster Bank must now stand-up and show some solidarity with the public and workers at a time of crisis.

“The Government and Minister for Finance should lead by example by implementing a 12-month mortarium in State-controlled banks.

“In the meantime, Ulster Bank management must immediately sit down and engage meaningfully with the staff representatives union of choice, the Financial Services Union, at the earliest opportunity to ensure that workers are fully consulted and kept informed of developments.”

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