Before we get onto the substance of this Newsletter members will be aware that the in-house staff unions – Accord and Unite – have issued a joint statement with Antonio Horta-Osorio, Group Chief Executive, on COVID-19 and the bank’s response to the unfolding pandemic. One can only assume that having supported the two unions financially for so long, the bank has called in its markers now things are getting tough.

The statement says: “We won’t always get everything right but we can promise to use the strength of our relationship to do all it can for you and your colleagues” and “Together, in partnership, we will make sure we are looking out for you”.

Is the bank (in partnership with its two approved unions) looking out for staff and their families when it refuses, despite all the evidence regarding transaction and activity, to allow more branch staff to work from home? Where was the so-called partnership when front-line staff were crying out for more protective equipment or making sure the social distancing guidelines were being followed by customers in branches. Simply rolling over to be tickled when the bank says so is not going to protect the interests of staff. It never has, and it never will. What’s required is a strong, independent trade union that is prepared to stand up for its members whatever it takes. We know the bank’s senior management team hates our very existence but to paraphrase a famous quote from an American President, we welcome their hatred because it shows that we are doing our jobs properly.

Now can we get back to looking after the interests of our members.

Are They Really Listening?

Following our recent Newsletter – ‘What’s Happening To Mortgage Advisers?’ – Jo Harris, Managing Director of Lloyds Community Bank said: “with effect from 20th April, your current pattern of work will be 10am to 2pm, Monday to Friday, four days per week”. Ms Harris then says: “This change will help us align with the ongoing customer demand while reducing the number of occasions you need to be in a branch”.

What demand in branches for MaPAs is she referring to? We can tell Ms. Harris that having spoken to members the demand is not there. One can only assume that the bank is determined to have as many MaPAs in the branches as possible regardless of whether or not they are needed. We understand from speaking to a number of branches across the three community banks that transactions have fallen by between 70-80% since ‘essential banking’ was introduced. If Ms. Harris randomly contacted a dozen MaPAs she would be told in no uncertain terms that the work they are doing – and many of them aren’t doing very much – could easily be done at home. The bank’s policy of making MaPAs sit around doing nothing in case there is a mad rush for mortgage advice is plain wrong in the current environment. Government policy is clear: if people can work from home they should; if they can’t and their jobs aren’t essential they should not go to work. These rules apply to Lloyds MaPAs as much as to any other workers.

We’ve put together some comments from our recent branch survey for Ms. Harris to read. We hope that once she’s read them, she’ll sort this out.

“Sat about doing nothing this is awful risking our lives like this. Just watched breakfast tv and 14 transport workers have died so far what’s it going to take for people to realise this is serious stuff..everyone is really scared”

“Today we had 3 MaPAs in the branch, no surprise none of us had any appointments. I believe the work I carried out such as training and calling customers could have been carried out from home if laptop could have been provided”.

I am a MAPA with nothing to do but still having to come to branch every day. I am helping with some welcome desk transactions just to pass the time but the branch has enough staff – including me today there were 10 of us in branch”.

I could do everything at home but the banks unwillingness to provide the laptops is pathetic! I feel genuinely unsafe going to work, to just sit and do nothing. I could do that at home and be in line with Government’s guidelines better. I technically think I am breaking the law with what I am doing now”.

“I have been tasked with making service calls to BM customers, not exactly essential, although the exercise has been generally well received by the clients. I have no objection to being in the office and consider it important to ‘muck in’ and be part of a team effort. Otherwise, it would be left to the lowest grade staff to be putting themselves to the greatest risk, when they will typically be the ones to receive the smallest reward. That said, I fail to see any satisfactory reason for overstaffing to persist in the absence of sufficient essential tasks requiring fulfilment. The vast majority of customers visiting the branch have been grateful to find us open at all and entirely understanding when they have been forced to wait in queues in accordance with social distance guidelines. The BM is very keen to run on the fewest staff possible, but is being thwarted by those in command, it seems”.

I’m a MaPA doing telephony appts. Got 1 booked in this week, if given a laptop could do from home but bank more worried about audio recording than my safety. Not busy enough to have us all in”.

Members with any issues they would like us to deal with on this should contact the Union’s Advice Team on 01234 262868 (choose Option 1).

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