Another 2,100 jobs to go at Lloyds

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The Independent Online

The finance sector was hit by another jobs hammer blow today with news that Lloyds is to axe 2,100 posts.

Staff were told that the cuts will affect the firm's commercial and group operations, hitting offices across the country.

The Unite union said it was "astonished" at the new job losses, saying "real questions" now had to be asked about how far the bank can be allowed to go in its "systematic" slashing of staff.

Rob MacGregor, Unite's national officer, said: "This loss of over 2,000 jobs marks the largest single job loss announcement since the formation of Lloyds Banking Group in January.

"Morale is now truly low as employees across Lloyds are in a permanent state of anxiety as they see their employer announce hundreds of job losses every week.

"This Labour Government cannot afford to turn the other way as bank workers across the country are losing their jobs. This horrendous news brings the total of job losses since January in LBG to over 7,000.

"The thousands of staff in the commercial and group operations areas who are hit by this announcement will be seeking a commitment from the bank that there will be no compulsory redundancies.

"Unite welcomes the assurance given to the union that LBG will not offshore any further roles in these business areas. However, we have called for an urgent review of all the Lloyds work being done offshore in order to access how this could be done in the UK in order to protect jobs."

Ged Nichols, general secretary of Accord, the union representing the largest number of former HBOS employees now working in the new Lloyds Banking Group, described the announcement as "very significant", adding: "The cumulative job loss total, and the almost weekly announcements, are a major worry for everybody employed in the bank.

"A team from Accord is meeting with the LBG today to seek reassurance that the restructuring that is taking place is genuinely aimed at creating a bank fit for the future rather than just cutting short-term costs."

Accord said it welcomed an announcement of new roles being created and an assurance that jobs would be retained in this country rather than offshored.

"We remain concerned, however, about the net further loss of employment opportunities within the bank, particularly in the current difficult economic and employment climate.

"Accord will fully support its members right through the current situation and we will do all that we can to avoid compulsory redundancies from this and other initiatives."

Lloyds said the changes followed "careful and detailed reviews" of the group operations and wholesale divisions, which will bring together a number of functions across Lloyds TSB and HBOS areas.

Operational functions including payment and business services and banking are combining, while the wholesale division is bringing together its Lloyds TSB and Bank of Scotland businesses in England and Wales.

Up to 2,100 jobs will be affected over the next three years, although Lloyds said 350 new roles will be created in cuts wholesale division.

The bank said it expected 700 of the job cuts to be achieved through natural attrition and the release of contract and agency staff.

It also announced that it would not be offshoring any permanent operational roles, keeping jobs in the UK wherever possible.

Mark Fisher, director, group operations, Lloyds Banking Group, said: "By bringing the businesses together, we will be better placed for the future. Regrettably, however, some of our colleagues will be affected by our plans.

"We understand that this difficult news will be unsettling and we will be working closely with those colleagues affected."

Lloyds said compulsory redundancies would be a "last resort", adding that measures had been put in place to help staff through this "uncertain time".

Around 700 jobs will be lost in group operations across a number of areas, including Scotland, the Midlands and West Yorkshire.

There will be 170 fewer "relationship manager" roles, while five commercial service centres will close this year in Barnstaple, Exeter, Lincoln, Plymouth and Yeovil.

Staff were also told that a further 34 commercial service centres were under review, with completion of this process due by the end of 2011. Two telephony units will also close in Chester and Speke, affecting 84 jobs.

Among the jobs created will be 90 in Edinburgh and Birmingham.