When announcing the changes Jo Harris, Managing Director of Lloyds Community Bank, said: “We will move from focusing specifically on essential services to allowing customers to request our support against our full range of transactions and services”.
The question which many members will be asking is why now? The easing of the lockdown rules with the opening of non-essential shops, which may drive footfall into branches, is not happening until the 15th June. On the one hand the bank says “We are committed to ensuring your branch remains a safe place for you to work” but then says that larger, more robust protective screens for till positions, interview rooms and in-between staff will be provided some time in July. The likelihood is that some branches could wait up to two months to get the proper protective equipment they need to deal with more customers. So, other than the desire to drive more business into branches, what’s the rush?
Accord, the main in-house staff union, says: “the proposals seem reasonable and we’re satisfied that the business is taking every precaution it can to do this safely”. No, if the bank was taking every precaution to protect the health and wellbeing of its staff then branch opening hours would only change when the bank had fitted all the new screens, introduced all the new safety measures and carried out all the branch risk assessments and not before. The bank is playing Russian roulette with the health and safety of branch staff and is being supported by Accord and Unite. We have been telling the bank for weeks to put in place extra safety measures, knowing full well that lockdown would be eased, but it’s done nothing.
We will return to this issue in our next Newsletter.
Following the publication of the union’s last Newsletter – ‘Maskarade’ – the Bank has now agreed to provide face masks to all front-line staff working in Lloyds, Halifax and Bank of Scotland. The bank had previously told that staff they could use facemasks, if they wanted, but it wouldn’t provide them. In our Newsletter we said:
“When it comes to the health and safety of its staff and customers, the Lloyds should be adopting the precautionary principle when it comes to the use of face masks. If TSB can afford to provide its staff with five cloth face masks, then Lloyds should be able to do the same. We are not asking for surgical masks or N95 respirators but simple face masks of the kind being used by most people.”
We finished by saying:
“Members can answer this simple question: If members of the GEC and the bank’s chief medical officer were required to spend one day a week on the frontline serving customers how long would it take for staff to be provided with face masks? Exactly!”
It’s a welcome move by Lloyds but branch opening hours shouldn’t be extended until staff have access to this extra level of protection. Equally, now that the lockdown measures have been eased and we can all go out more, we hope that Jo Harris and her top team will take the opportunity to visit some branches and offices in the next few days to see what it’s like working on the front-line. However, she may need to bring some hand sanitiser with her because supplies are running low in lots of branches and offices, and some haven’t had any for weeks. She might also like to do a couple of stints in different jobs involving face-to-face customer interaction to demonstrate to staff how safe things now are.
Members with any comments or issues, they would like us to deal with should contact the Union’s Advice Team on 01234 262868 (choose Option 1).