Lloyds cuts 3,000 jobs: where’s the accountability?
This morning it was announced that Lloyds bank will be cutting 3,000 jobs as well as closing 200 branches. This is in addition to the 45,000 that were lost during the 2008 crisis and 9,000 that will be lost in a three year cost cutting programme that was announced in 2014. The reduction in customers using branches and choosing internet banking is one of the justifications for this action, but with Lloyds well on its way to economic recovery after the 2008 crisis, with a half yearly profit of £2.5 Billion and handing pay packages worth millions to chief executives can they really justify this move?
I had a chat with Rob MacGregor who is the National Officer at Unite the Union who had a lot to say in response to today’s announcement.
“The people we represent are relatively low paid workers, workers that work front of house in the branches, but also they work in back office functions and in call centres. These people can’t afford to lose their jobs. These aren’t the casino capitalists, the investment bankers. These are ordinary working people in some of the more deprived communities in parts of the North West and indeed the South East of England that are being materially impacted by these changes.”
Rob went on to acknowledge the increase in customers using online banking and applications, but highlights the people who don’t use or don’t have access to the internet.
“Physical transactions that we do in a branch have reduced markedly they represent less than 10 % of bank transactions. So that’s the banks justification, but tell that to the millions of bank customers, not just in Lloyds, but in other banks who can’t or won’t use internet banking or who don’t have access to those facilities. Tell that to small business owners who have seen their local bank close, the bank they use to put their deposit in on a regular basis they now have to travel to the main town or city, but in addition to that when they see their local branch close it also signals greater commercial flight from the high street.”
The tax payer owns over 9% of Lloyds and it’s the tax payer that saved the bank in the aftermath of the 2008 crisis. The lack of acknowledgement from the government in their failure to control the banks and to highlight the issue of accountability is troubling.
“So the British tax payer funds and supports this bank, but were the British tax payers asked if they support this branch closure programme or this job loss programme? Of course they weren’t. What we have is a feckless government that won’t control the banks at all. Where’s the statement of regret from the government? You know, 3000 jobs have gone. If this was another industry we would be setting up an industrial tax force, we would be bringing back ministers from their other seas holidays to other see the prices. There is just a collective shrug of the shoulders and that is wrong because these jobs are permanent jobs and they actually support a strata of the economy and a strata of workers in the economy who haven’t got the qualifications or skills to have high paid, specialist jobs, but they’re essential to keep us ticking over as a nations".
Rob highlights an important question for government; what is their plan on rebalancing the economy and addressing the lack of good jobs for non-graduates? We need to see greater accountability of business and government in situations where life is being made even harder for non-graduates- especially when these jobs are so vital to society.