Unite Scotland welcomes RBS stay of execution for 10 branches. But union asks what about the other 52 facing the axe?
On 1 December RBS announced its intention to close 1 in 3 of its branches across Scotland. Unite Scotland has run an all-Scotland campaign to oppose these brutal closures which will have devastating effects in communities across Scotland and put hundreds of jobs at risk. In this respect Unite Scotland welcomes yesterday’s news that RBS appears to be reconsidering the scale of its branch closure programme.
On February 6th RBS announced that ten of its ‘last branch in town’ branches will have a stay of execution. These are Biggar, Douglas Beauly, Tongue, Castlebay, Comrie, Inverarary, Kyle, Melrose and Gretna.
The Deputy Scottish Secretary of Unite, Mary Alexander said “We should be clear about this - it is a stay of execution. We believe that RBS has been forced to offer these concessions because of the campaign run by Unite and the local communities to expose the devastation of what the closures mean for communities and jobs. But if it’s good enough to make these concessions what are the bank prepared to do about the other 52 communities facing the axe.”
RBS announced the closures without any meaningful consultation with local people and little detailed negotiation with Unite. We were told then that there could be no change of mind, that the bank had researched all the closures in detail, was responding to ‘customer behaviour’ , and there could be no change to the closure programme.
So what does today’s backtracking by the bank suggest? Unite believes the whole programme now needs a root and branch review. That must include intervention from the Westminster Government to call the bank to account.This is a bank which has been bailed out by the taxpayer to the tune of £45bn, and is owned by the taxpayer.
Mary Alexander says: “RBS has opened the door for further consideration of its entire programme. Otherwise they stand accused of making expedient concessions now to mitigate the PR disaster the closures have become. We remain gravely concerned about the remaining 52 closures and will be seeking an urgent meeting with the top bank officials about this.Our campaign continues."