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.