Banks urged to 'come clean' over job cuts

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Trade union Unite today demanded that the bosses of merging banks HBOS and Lloyds TSB "come clean" over speculation of job cuts as a result of the deal.

The joint leader of the country's biggest trade union made the call in a letter to the two banks' chief executives in the wake of the proposed tie-up.

Derek Simpson of Unite said it was time for HBOS chief executive Andy Hornby and Lloyds TSB boss Eric Daniels to "come clean" amid fears that tens of thousands of finance workers face redundancy.

Unite is opposed to compulsory redundancies at the new bank.

"It's now time for Eric Daniels and Andy Hornby to come clean, sit down with the unions and begin a meaningful and transparent dialogue.

"The banks must reassure their staff and do everything possible to protect jobs. If the banks don't, the Government must step in, they have already intervened and we believe if necessary they should intervene to protect jobs in the financial services."

Unite warned that staff morale was at an all-time low, with 140 000 staff still "in the dark" over their future job prospects.

Mr Simpson added: "Staff working in branches, call centres and back offices across Britain are shell-shocked. For a third day in a row the staff at both banks are in the dark, trying to provide the best possible service to customers.

"It must be unbearable for the staff who have to turn up to work each day, not knowing what this takeover means for them."

Stephen Boyd, Scottish Trades Union Congress (STUC) Assistant Secretary, criticised HBOS's business model and said: "The focus on the role of speculators in HBOS's demise has allowed its senior executives to wriggle free from the spotlight.

"The crisis in financial markets will undoubtedly hit the ordinary worker hardest."

A HBOS spokesman meanwhile said that Mr Hornby was not in line for any extra shares as a result of the deal.

He said: "Andy Hornby directly owns one million HBOS shares; he has built up his holding over many years. As a substantial private shareholder in his own right, he has seen the same significant decline in the value of his holdings as any other shareholder.

"The shares that Andy Hornby holds will be treated in exactly the same way as any other HBOS shareholders under the terms of the proposed acquisition of the company by Lloyds TSB."