Purves scorns union threat of one-day strikes

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The Independent Online
MIDLAND's improved profits prompted Bifu, the banking union, to call for negotiations to avoid a strike over pay, writes John Willcock. Sir William Purves, chairman of HSBC, Midland's parent, scorned the threats of strike action, saying the UK was suffering from pay demands significantly ahead of inflation and the bank was determined to keep the lid on costs.

Bifu is balloting its 13,900 Midland Bank members on industrial action in pursuit of a 5.5 per cent pay claim. Midland has already imposed a 2.25 per cent settlement on its 45,000 branch staff. The vote will close on 26 August, and if members support industrial action, a series of one-day strikes will start in September.

Noel Howell, Bifu's spokesman, said: 'We urge Midland to come and talk to us following these half-year results. They could also go to Acas. It's up to them. Midland employees have had a decade of being the poor relations. We think Midland should pay up on some of the promises it made during the lean times.'

Sir William said: 'The pay offer is very much in line with that accepted in other banks. I think it's a fair offer. Midland must concentrate on regaining market share and a reputation for service, which very sadly some years ago was lost.'

The last bank strike was at TSB in January 1993, when up to 500 branches were closed for a day over a row about compulsory redundancies. A one-day strike at Lloyds Bank in 1991 over Christmas opening hours closed 42 branches.

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