Unite, the union representing staff at Barclays Bank has branded the decision to cut around 1,700 staff from customer-facing branch-based roles as a “colossal mistake”, warning that customer service could suffer as a result.
Barclays has today (Thursday 14 November) informed its workforce that it will be reducing 1,700 frontline roles from across its branch network. Cashiers, personal bankers, operational specialists, branch managers and assistant manager roles will be cut throughout 2014. This is on top of last week's announcements of the closure of the Coventry and Dartford centres, which put around 600 workers at risk of redundancy.
The decision to move to increased automation across bank branches is incredibly significant for all bank users. Unite has argued that Barclays customers want well-staffed branches and would prefer to deal with the highly trained and professional staff that currently service their branches.
There are serious questions as to what this reduction in staff numbers will do to customer service across the bank. With the remaining staff facing increased workloads there will be visible changes to how Barclays meets the needs of its customers, and a clear risk that customers will have longer queuing times and receive inferior service as a result.
Dominic Hook, Unite national officer said: "It's a colossal mistake for Barclays Bank to announce 1,700 job cuts across its bank branches. These employees deliver high levels of service that customers of the bank benefit from. Such a massive reduction will be very detrimental to the bank and will also be hugely challenging for the staff remaining.
“Unite is pressing Barclays to reconsider this proposal for the sake of its reputation for high customer service. Consumers want to engage with knowledgeable, highly experienced, professional staff. By taking 1,700 of the workforce away Barclays risks massive reputational damage. Members in branches will be facing a period of considerable uncertainty in the current harsh economic climate.
“Unite will now be having further urgent discussions with Barclays to put alternative proposals to the bank. Barclays has already agreed to Unite's demands for a voluntary redundancy register, to set up training grants for colleagues leaving Barclays, and to compensate colleagues who volunteer to reduce their working hours.
"The union will also be seeking firm assurances that there will be no compulsory redundancies following the completion of the voluntary exercise. Unite is challenging the view that customers prefer to bank using machines instead of the dedicated staff currently working in Barclays branches across the country.”
For more information please contact Ciaran Naidoo on 07768 931 315 or Saba Mozakka 07768 693 953
Notes to editors:
Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest trade union with 1.4 million members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.