Lloyds Bank’s decision to cut staffing in the branch network to the bone is causing serious concerns over branch security and intolerably high pressure working environments. It would not be sensible for us to set out the alarming examples that have been reported to us recently, but what’s clear is that Lloyds has created a very serious problem which cannot be allowed to continue.

Chronically understaffing in many branches has turned people into ‘sitting ducks’. The Bank knows what’s going on because staff have been told that this is the way it’s going to be now and they’ll have to get used to it. The impression given is that the Bank just doesn’t care and it will continue to turn a blind eye to the problems it has caused until something serious happens, at which point it will be too late.

Branch Managers, who can’t be blamed, are desperately trying to do all they can to protect their staff and provide a good service to customers. But running branches with minimal staffing is not only putting staff security at serious risk, it’s causing people to work under intolerably high pressure: staff in the branch network are at breaking point.

Unpaid overtime, missed rest periods, compromising procedures to get jobs done are all happening routinely on a daily basis. Not only is it unreasonable for staff to be expected to work in these conditions, the Bank could also be in breach of its legal duty to provide a safe working environment. Such working environments inevitably cause sickness absence, which only makes the problem worse.

And who will get the blame when problems arise? You can be certain it’ll be ordinary staff and managers, who will be subject to disciplinary action for making mistakes and breaking procedures, following which they’ll be reported to the FCA for alleged Conduct Rule breaches.

Not Knowing When To Stop On Cost Cutting

To any outside observer it seems obvious that top managers in Lloyds, like the people running many other organisations, seized upon cost cutting some years ago as the easy way to demonstrate results because they were largely clueless on how to ‘grow’ their business.

Cost cutting is relatively easy: winning market share from your competitors isn’t. But given the sort of salaries and bonuses paid to bank Chief Executives over the last ten years or so shareholders were entitled to expect more. Unsurprisingly, the share price has languished in the doldrums for a decade, as analysts and large investors have lost patience with Lloyds. A great British brand with a share price of almost £10 has been seriously devalued.

Organisations can’t stand still and constant change is inevitable in a competitive sector but managers need to know when to call a halt on cost cutting in key delivery channels. All the evidence is that so far as the branch network is concerned, people at the top of Lloyds are out of touch with this reality.

Have Your Say

We know that the Bank won’t act unless it’s forced to. We’ve already amassed considerable evidence of the problems that exist in the branch network, but now’s the time for members to tell us the specific problems that they personally face. Shortly we’ll be sending out an anonymous survey for members to complete, so please do share your views with us. Alternatively, you can contact us confidentially at any time at in.confidence@btuonline.co.uk.

You can also help us by telling your colleagues to join us and the campaign. We’re already the largest union in the branch network, but the more voices we have, the more the Bank will be forced to listen. Membership of other unions won’t make a difference because we’re the only union that’s truly independent, with the freedom that’s needed to bring about change.

If you have an immediate problem which you need our help with, the Advice Team can be contacted 24 hours a day on 01234 262868.

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