Lloyds Banking Group's new chief executive swung the axe yesterday, announcing 15,000 job cuts on top of the 28,000 already made at the state-backed bank in the last two years.
Antonio Horta-Osorio said the cuts over the next two and a half years were needed to get the bank in shape to support the British economy.
Unveiling his long-awaited strategic review, Mr Horta-Osorio said: "I do regret that we have to do this. We would much prefer to put this bank back on its feet without having to reduce 15,000 jobs. It is a must."
He said the bank was losing money, needed to be more "agile", and had to get in shape so the Government could sell its 41 per cent stake.
But unions reacted with fury to the news, accusing Mr Horta-Osorio of reckless action that will damage add to the economic gloom.
David Fleming, the national officer of the Unite union, said: "The massive cuts announced today, coupled with the directive to sell some 600 branches, does nothing for customers or businesses to ease the financial pressures they face, only creating more insecurity across the economy."
Most of the cuts will be in the UK but will also include casualties from the decision to slash more than half Lloyds' 30 overseas outposts. The job cuts are meant to save £1.5bn a year with a third reinvested in the business.
Mark Brown, the general secretary of the in-house LTU union, called for 5,000 jobs in India to be moved back to the UK. "It seems Lloyds is cutting jobs and costs simply in order to stand still," he said.
Mr Horta-Osorio said the bank would try to make the cuts from the 10,000 people who leave the bank every year. The cost savings are on top of the £2bn made from its rescue of HBOS at the start of 2009.
Mr Horta-Osorio, who joined from Santander in March, said a major plank of his plans was to breathe new life into HBOS's Halifax, which was once an aggressive rival to Lloyds.
"Halifax is going to compete not only with Nationwide and Santander but with Lloyds."