‘IT seems to me that bank workers are treated as second-class citizens as though their jobs don’t matter.’
This is what Ged Nichols, general secretary of TUC-affiliated banking union Accord, told News Line yesterday afternoon after PM Brown and Chancellor Darling ok’d mass sackings and branch closures at the merged HBOS and Lloyds TSB banks.
He added: ‘Firstly, I’m very surprised about what the government has done, and I believe it to be unprecedented.
‘And I’m also surprised about how relaxed the government appeared to be about the speculated job losses.
‘If there was the prospect of 40,000 job losses in another industry, there’d be an absolute outcry.
‘There’s the common image that the people in banks are all City whizzkids earning million-pound bonuses, but the reality is that there is a problem with low pay in financial institutions.
‘Our members are somewhat bewildered at the moment by the speed of events and we’re trying to get in the middle of that and make our position clear, that we’re completely opposed to compulsory redundancies and that we want a positive dialogue with the banks about the future.
‘It’s far too early to consider industrial action. There’s a lot of talking to do yet.
‘But, yes, I’ve been in touch with Brendan Barber of the TUC and I’ve also been in touch with Unite, who have members in both HBOS and Lloyds TSB.
‘The TUC are keen to give whatever support they can and we currently work with Unite in HBOS and we’ve got a good relationship there, which we’ll be building on.’
The merged bank has announced that it intends to make £1 billion a year savings and end any duplication of facilities.
This will mean 40,000 sackings out of the 150,000 strong workforce and the closure of 1,000 branches and a number of call centres.
Such mergers were ruled out of order in the past because of the jobs massacre that would be involved.
However in the face of the deepening capitalist crisis this merger was pushed through by Brown and Darling.
Prime Minister Gordon Brown said the government was ‘determined’ to maintain the stability of the financial system.
He pledged to ‘do everything to protect depositors in Britain, who need to have confidence in the banking system’.
Earlier the Chancellor Alistair Darling said the government would allow the HBOS-Lloyds TSB deal as financial stability ‘must trump’ competition fears.
Meanwhile the Federal Reserve Bank has pumped $180bn (£99bn) of extra money into the markets in a panic move to stave off a major Wall Street collapse.
The extra credit came after Wall Street finished 449 points down on Wednesday night and gold increased in price by a gigantic $90 an ounce in just 24 hours, as shares in the Morgan Stanley bank fell by more than 20%.
The $180bn has been released by the US Federal Reserve to five other main central banks, who in turn are issuing the funds in their own countries.
The Bank of England is making $40bn available, while the European Central Bank is to provide $55bn.
The response from Wall Street was feeble, with the Dow Jones opening 121 points up.
• Hundreds of postal workers will march through Manchester on Monday 22nd September culminating outside the Labour Party’s annual conference in protest against drastic changes and closures in the postal industry.
Billy Hayes, general secretary, said: ‘We want the government to guarantee the future of the universal service and stand by their manifesto commitment to keep Royal Mail fully integrated and in the public sector.’