New figures obtained by the Sunday Herald show banking giants RBS and Lloyds Banking Group slashed their official head counts by more than 7000 in just 12 months.
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The Edinburgh-based institutions – which were partially nationalised after they were almost wiped out in the credit crunch nearly two years ago – have been trying to cut costs as they recover from record losses.
Now, Government figures covering public-sector employment statistics show everybody who works for the Royal Bank of Scotland, Lloyds (including its historic Bank of Scotland business) and tiny Northern Rock. In the first quarter of last year, north of the Border, that amounts to 43,600. By the first quarter of this year the figure had plunged 17% to 36,300. Shirley-Anne Somerville, a Nationalist MSP for Edinburgh, said: “The banks must be called to account for these job cuts. It strikes me that they’ve been attempting to hide the scale of the losses by revealing them in a piecemeal manner in a long series of low-key announcements.
“But now that the true numbers are being made known, the banks must come clean and confirm the number of jobs they have cut, and why.”
Northern Rock said yesterday it had not reduced its tiny Scottish staff, suggesting the drop came from RBS, which insisted it had only seen its overall head count slip from 17,000 to 16,000, and Lloyds, who declined to say how many posts it has lost. Lloyds, however, did say that it currently had around 20,000 names on its books north of the Border.
The Sunday Herald understands that few of the jobs have gone through compulsory redundancy. Instead, the big banks have cut numbers by attrition – not renewing short-term contracts or replacing those who retire or leave.
Trade unionists, believe the bulk of those being axed in Scotland are low-paid clerks, tellers and call-centre staff – rather than bonus-hungry City workers.
Labour MSP George Foulkes said: “It is the ordinary workers who are suffering – the ones who cash our cheques and help us with our mortgages – not the casino bankers who caused the crisis.”
Ian Tasker, the assistant secretary general of the Scottish TUC, last night said: “It is the people on the front line who have lost out, the people at the bottom of the business. Linda Harper, RBS spokeswoman, said yesterday: “Regrettably the restructuring we are going through means job losses for our staff. This is one of the most difficult parts of the actions we are taking to rebuild RBS.
“So far the job losses we’ve announced to date have resulted in fewer than one in four people being made compulsorily redundant.”
Ross Keany, spokesman for Lloyds, stressed Lloyds’ commitment to Scotland, saying: “Around one-fifth of our top 500 executives work in Scotland, reflecting the extraordinary pool of talent that exists in the country’s financial sector and the emphasis the Group places on having a significant presence in Scotland.”