In summary:

  • Since the start of this week (Monday 6th April 2020), 29% of respondents said more staff were being told to report for work than were needed to provide essential banking services to customers.
  • 56% of respondents said that team-based shift working had not been implemented in their branches
  • 11% said that since the beginning of this week (Monday 6th April 2020), staff were still being told to do work other than provide essential banking services e.g. cleaning, tidying up, telemarketing.
  • 35% said that their branches did not have adequate supplies of cleaning materials and hand sanitiser.

Team-Based Shift Working Is Effective, When Implemented!

Almost all the feedback from members on the team-based shift working was positive, emphasising that it’s helping to allow staff to maintain the necessary 2m distance.

“Sensible as we could not keep 2 metres apart otherwise”

“Better than last week when too many bodies in the office and no work to share”

However, 56% of respondents said team-based shift working had still not been implemented in their branches and 29% said more staff had been told to report for work than were needed to provide essential banking services to customers.

We accept that some branches are not going to have enough staff to operate a shift system, but for a significant number of branches the evidence suggests that’s not the case. There’s absolutely no excuse for not implementing team-based working where people have no essential work to do.

Staff are still being asked to undertake numerous extra duties if not carrying out essential banking services, such as:

Deep cleaning toilets and kitchens, tidying and cleaning till drawers, clearing out offices and stationery cupboards.

It’s not unreasonable for managers to ask staff to clear up offices in normal circumstances, but we’re in the middle of a pandemic where the government is imploring people not to interact unnecessarily. If there’s not enough essential banking work to undertake – send people home! Don’t make them deep clean the toilets.

Who’s Responsible?

A number of branches were named specifically as having more staff in than are needed because, we have been told, local management have decided to require people to attend work e.g. Cornhill Ipswich, but we know in others that local managers are definitely being overruled by Cluster Managers or Area Directors who are insisting on full attendance. That could of course also be the case in Ipswich.

If Cluster Managers and/or Area Directors are making the decision to defy the government’s rules they should not be surprised to see their names appear in print in our newsletters this weekend and in local newspapers. If they are being forced to tell staff who are not needed to come into work they should make their protests known to the people who are giving them their orders.

It’s difficult to over-estimate the rank stupidity of telling people to attend work when they are not needed. As I say, we accept that branch managers may be acting under instructions from above, in which case Antonio Horta Osorio and his senior management team need to step in and sort things out. If they do not do that by the time branches open on Tuesday 14th, at the possible height of the Covid-19 outbreak, they will be the guilty parties and will be named as being responsible.

Wider Use Of Protective Screens, But Still More To Do

The majority of the branches reported to us now have protective screens (around 92%), which is a massive improvement. But the Bank must urgently address the needs of the remaining branches where screens have not yet been installed; staff in these branches are understandably angry.

Overall, staff are pleased to have screens because they are “better than nothing”, but many have expressed concern that they’re flimsy and not tall enough or wide enough to provide adequate protection. In some cases, customers are just leaning around the sides.

Sourcing and rolling out protective screens in a short space of time is a challenge, but the Bank now needs to consider whether more substantial screens can be sourced to provide enhanced protection for staff.

Lack Of Cleaning Supplies And Hand Sanitiser A Concern

35% of respondents told us that their branches do not have adequate supplies of cleaning materials and hand sanitiser.

“We have had to buy our own cleaning material – people sent home 2 weeks ago for showing symptoms and no deep clean of branch”

“Promised but still not received”

“Colleagues are bringing in their own cleaning products from home including sprays, cloths and wipes”

One would expect the Bank to be doing all it can to source adequate supplies of cleaning materials and hand sanitiser for staff. We have no reason to doubt that the Bank isn’t trying in this area, but the Bank needs to give careful consideration to what it will do if branches run out. Staff must not be expected to continue to work where appropriate personal protective equipment is not available and managers need clear direction from senior staff about what to do if that situation arises.

We’ve had no reports of the Bank centrally refusing to reimburse staff for the cost of cleaning materials where staff have supplied their own, but it’s important that members keep evidence of what they have purchased so that staff don’t end up footing the bill. We will name and shame the people who refuse reimbursement. They have been warned!

Numerous people have indicated that “General cleaning is poor” in their branches and that some of them are being cleaned to a sub-optimal standard.

“No cleaner attending branch at present and lack of disinfectant wipes etc”.

“The additional cleaning has stopped as the cleaner had been out on Furlough. So the kitchen , toilets ,cashpoints , keypads , desks are no longer being cleaned.”

The Bank needs to ensure that the cleaning contractors are providing the service that they’re contracted to provide and where necessary, arrange alternative cleaning services.

Justifiable Praise

Many members have given us very positive feedback on their managers and it’s quite right that we acknowledge them and thank them for what they’re doing to protect staff. Here’s a selection:

Not Identified “much improved since we were named/shamed in the last newsletter.”

Wellingborough “The management have been very considerate and fast moving to protect staff and customers, felt having a team Rota was slower than would have liked but this I feel came from above and once agreed moved immediately, well done BM and SBM”

Bloxwich “I can say that my branch is being run very fair to all staff and we feel we are being protected as much as possible”

Chester Le Street “My branch management and Area management have supported the team over all issues over the past few weeks.”

Monmouth “Our manager has been brilliant”

Barrow-in-Furness “Our branch management team have been absolutely fantastic. They have put their staff first and maintained all the protocols advised.”

Braintree “Our BM and SBM have been fantastically supportive and understanding of individual concerns and work/life balance needs. Not all BMs are idiots or treat their teams as such.”

Shrewsbury “Our sbm Rosalind Ince has been fabulous. Supportive and going above and beyond to support her staff”

Cabot Circus, Bristol “I feel our SBM and BMs in Cabot are really keeping us informed with updates and doing whatever they can to support us including cleaning.”

Tewkesbury “Our management team have been brilliant – not often I get chance to praise, but credit where credit is due”

Breck Road, Liverpool “Our manager Phil Bebb, goes out of his way to help us.”

Thatcham “Our local managers are amazing, we are not working shifts as we are all reduced hours staff normally, but we have all been given extra time off when not needed”

“At Lowestoft the management are being very proactive & doing their share of the customer facing work”

Walton on Thames “I am pleased with the amount of support from my Line Manager and my colleagues. I think we are all working well together in this challenging time.”

Tunstall “Overall very impressed with BM SBM”

Gateshead “Our management are doing a good job keeping us safe as best they can.”

The survey is still open so if you would like to complete it and haven’t already done so, please click this link or copy and paste it into your web browser:

To speak to the union’s 24 hour Advice Team, please call us on 01234 262868 (choose Option 1). Our online Advice Hub can be viewed here.


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