Unite (Amicus section) yesterday expressed fears for the jobs of thousands of its members currently working at Northern Rock, as Chancellor Darling introduced emergency legislation to place the troubled bank under temporary public ownership.
Graham Goddard, Unite Deputy General Secretary says: ‘The decision to bring Northern Rock into temporary public ownership brings further uncertainty for the employees of the bank.
‘Unite will now be seeking urgent clarification on the implications for the workforce.
‘Employees will now be even more anxious about their long-term job security, terms and conditions and pension arrangements.
‘Five months from the start of the crisis, Northern Rock employees urgently need reassurance about their job security.
‘Unite will meet with the new Chairman, Ron Sandler, to discuss employee concerns on the future plans for the business.
‘We will be pressing for solutions that are in the best interests of the employees and the company’s future.
‘The union is opposed to any attempt to asset strip Northern Rock.
‘Unite will resist any compulsory redundancies within Northern Rock.’
Shares in Northern Rock were suspended yesterday morning.
Introducing the Banking (Special Provisions) Bill, Darling said that ‘ultimately the long term future of this bank must lie with the private sector’.
He said of the private bids from Virgin Group and the Northern Rock Board that the government ‘subsidy on the scale requested would not have given value to the taxpayer’.
Earlier he and Prime Minister Brown defended their handling to the crisis, while newly appointed executive chairman Ron Sandler warned all options carried risk.
Sandler, who is being paid £90,000 a month, has been charged with finding a viable business plan for the lender.
He claimed after meeting senior managers that the bank was well placed to recover from the problems that were started by the slump in the US sub-prime housing market.
But, he warned: ‘Nothing is guaranteed in this world. All possible solutions carry with them an element of risk.’
Brown told a midday press conference ‘we acted in the best interest of taxpayers’.
He said ‘it was the right move at the right time for the right reasons’.
Both he and Darling refused to take responsibility for any job cuts.
In an earlier interview, he stressed, when the bank was unable to get a cash injection last summer ‘if we had not intervened the bank would have failed, and the risk then was that that could have affected other parts of the banking system in this country’.
Meanwhile, major shareholders are threatening legal action over the move as they fear they will not be paid what they consider sufficient ‘compensation’ from the government.