Unite Scotland will give evidence on the RBS bank closure programme at the Scottish parliament today (29 May). Unite industrial officer Lyn Turner will address the Economy, Jobs and Fair Work committee inquiry on ‘Bank closures: impact on local businesses, consumers and the Scottish economy’.
The union is also organising a public demonstration outside the Royal Bank of Scotland Annual General Meeting the following day (30 May) at its Gogarburn HQ at 12.30. Unite has secured a number of proxy votes for the AGM where the union will directly challenge RBS chiefs on performance targets, the bank closures and the number of jobs under threat.
Unite submitted a paper to the Economy, Jobs and Fair Work committee outlining the likely economic and social impacts on communities caused by the closure of 62 RBS branches including detrimental effects on local businesses and small business investment. Unite considers that the 10 banks earmarked for non-imminent closure represents a ‘stay of execution’ rather than a reprieve. The paper also identifies the impact the lack of a credible alternative banking service would have on elderly people and the vulnerable in these communities.
RBS gave notice that in the current 52 branch closure list out of a staff total of 228, there would be 179 impacted by redundancy. The remaining 49 would be retained and transferred to other branches. In other words the closure programme now involves 8 out of 10 staff being made redundant. However, the bank's own documents show that if you don’t use the Full Time Equivalent, as they have done, the actual head count is 321 jobs.
Lyn Turner of Unite said ahead of the evidence: “Unite Scotland believes that the scheduled closures of RBS banks will have a huge impact on communities, particularly vulnerable people not least those who will lose their jobs. For many internet banking is not an option.
"The inquiry is an opportunity for the Scottish parliament to unite and send a loud message to RBS chiefs that their immoral actions are a historic betrayal of communities who have supported the bank for generations.”
Mary Alexander, Unite Scotland deputy, said:“The RBS AGM protest led by Unite is an opportunity for the wider public to show its disgust at the proposed closures. It is a bank 71 per cent owned by the public with a board which is demonstrating zero responsibility to the public. Let’s not forget that RBS recently made an annual profit of £752m, yet these closures are projected to save less money than its sponsoring of Six Nation rugby.
"We will be directly challenging RBS senior management on a number of assertions through the use of proxy votes and the consequences of the closures which will scar communities across Scotland.”
At the Scottish Affairs select committee on the RBS closures held in Westminster on 17 January 2017 the RBS director of personal and business banking told the committee that the savings to be a made from the closure of the 62 branches would amount to some £9.5m a year. In 2017 RBS signed up on a sponsorship deal with the Six Nations rugby tournament to pay £11m sponsorship every year over a 4 year period.
For more information contact Lyn Turner (07980 871394) or Mary Alexander (07711237075).
Notes to editors:
Unite Scotland Executive Summary to the Economy, Jobs and Fair Work Committee
a) Unite Scotland believes that the line of questioning offered to respondents by the EJFW Committee suggests that the committee has now accepted that the closures proposed are inevitable. Therefore it seems that the purpose of the inquiry is to mitigate the results of the disastrous closure programme. Unite’s submission suggests that there remain huge questions about the validity of the RBS closures - 1 in 3 branches in Scotland - and that the bank should still be requested to justify its plans.
b) It is the union’s view that RBS has misled the public on a number of counts including measurement of footfall to justify closures, the actual scale of job losses, and the actual costs/savings of the proposed closures.
c) RBS in its official notice to Unite of pending redundancies has notified the union that of the standing 228 staff 179 will be made redundant. Or in another sense, 8 out of 10 present jobs will go. When they announced the closure programme they mislead the public on the scale of redundancies.
d) The most recent financial accounts published in February this year suggest that RBS is now ‘cash rich’ and the suggested £9.5m savings that will occur from the closures are not justified on an operating profit of £2.2bn.
e) Unite believes that the real agenda for closure is to make the bank ready for privatisation. The closures will make RBS a more attractive proposition to the City for buy-out.
f) The geographical index of the proposed closures indicates the extent to which communities across Scotland will be seriously adversely affected by these plans.
g) RBS has abdicated any social responsibility to the communities it serves.
h) The process of bank closures is creating dual banking provision where well off communities have better access to facilities than the less well off.
i) RBS’ alternative service proposals across Scotland for the 62 affected local communities are untenable. This includes service provision by the Post Office, mobile banking and internet banking. RBS is actually cutting mobile banking services rather than enhancing them to compensate for closures.
j) RBS is conducting a pressure programme for staff to meet targets for recruiting customers to internet banking; this creates ‘fair accompli’ conditions to justify closures.
k) Unite believes that RBS has infringed all the standing protocols for closures in the banking industry.
l) The Westminster Government’s arguments that it cannot intervene with RBS as the closure programme is “a commercial decision” are preposterous, in the light of its current shareholding and the recent government ministers’ interventions in the Melrose takeover of GKN. The EJFW Committee should make whatever appropriate representations, through whatever appropriate channels, to the Westminster government in this regard.
m) The EJFW Committee should reconsider its current approach to the RBS closure programme