Unite reaction to Barclays branch closure announcement

Unite reaction to Barclays branch closure announcement

29 January 2014

Unite the union, which represents the workforce at Barclays Bank, has warned Barclays against the closure of a quarter of its branches and the move towards more machines in those that remain, plans which were revealed today.

In an independent poll published this week consumers expressed reservations about automation in bank branches, and instead prefer fully staffed branches. Barclays must take note that nearly three quarters (72 per cent) of people want the human touch, not just a machine.

The Survation poll of consumers, for Unite, points to a backlash against the march of the machines in bank branches across the UK, with two thirds (62 per cent) saying they want more staff in branches and 72 per cent reporting they had found bank machines they wanted to use out of order. 1 in 5 said that they were unsure of how to use a branch machine.

Dominic Hook, Unite national officer said: “Staff at Barclays are alarmed by the plans announced today; there is no justification for such proposals. Barclays must not embark on this reckless rush to close branches and fill others with machines instead of staff. There will be a significant cost to customer service in Barclays. Unite has called on Barclays to halt their bank branch closure plan. The banking industry must step back from the rush to install banking machines across all their branches at the continued expense of employment and training of a much valued workforce.

“Research shows the significant reputational damage the banks will suffer if they ignore the needs of their customers. With 72 per cent stating they have had problems with machines in branches and 62 per cent preferring more staff in branches, there is no doubt about the importance of front line bank staff.  

“Barclays customers don’t want to see empty soulless branches. There are serious questions as to what this reduction in staff numbers will do to customer service in Barclays.”

All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from Survation Ltd.  Total sample size was 1,005 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken on 2nd January 2014. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all GB adults (aged 18+).


For further information contact Saba Edwards, Unite senior communications officer on: 07768 693 953

Twitter: @unitetheunion Facebook: unitetheunion1

Notes to editors

•    Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest trade union with over 1.4 million members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.