Finance workers’ union, IBOA, has expressed concern at the decision of Danske Bank to close two of its Belfast branches – on the Shankill Road and in Holywood – with a view to merging them with its Donegall Square West branch in September.
“While we have received assurances from Danske’s senior management that the staff in these branches will be redeployed to other roles within the bank, we are nevertheless concerned at this development,” said Union General Secretary, Larry Broderick, “especially in view of comments from senior executives in Belfast earlier this year to the effect that Danske’s extensive programme of branch closures had been completed.”
“With continuing uncertainty surrounding the future of both the Ulster Bank and First Trust Bank branch networks, we are fearful that the outlook for the customers of Northern Ireland’s major banks is becoming more difficult.
“While all of the banks are strong on the rhetoric of putting the interests of customers first, it seems that the only customers they are making a real effort to serve are those who are have access to mobile technology and a reliable broadband connection. Customers who require traditional financial services delivered face-to-face by qualified bank staff have to travel longer and longer distances.
“While some banks have made arrangements recently for their customers to be served at post offices following recent bank branches closures, this still amounts to a reduction in the overall quality of service to customers as the local post office will not be able to offer the expertise and knowledge of experienced bank staff.
“We are aware that the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee in the House of Commons at Westminster is currently finalising its report on the structure of banking in Northern Ireland. If the Danske announcement is a prelude to similar announcements from other banks, that report could be out-of-date before it is even published!
“We intend to convey our concerns to the Minister for Finance, Simon Hamilton, and seek further engagement with members of the Assembly and Executive,” added the IBOA leader.