About 75 per cent of TSB's 19,000 union employees were believed to have stayed away to protest against the bank's handling of 1,000 job losses this month - some of which the union fears will be compulsory - after peace talks broke down on Wednesday.
TSB played down the strike, claiming during the morning that 'the vast majority of branches are open and we are pleased that the impact on customers will be minimal.'
But Noel Howell, a Bifu spokesman, called it 'the most effective industrial action across the whole banking sector since the 1960s'.
The union said the strike, the first at TSB since 1968, hit the bank hardest in the North and North-west of England, where it has the greatest presence, and in Wales and parts of Scotland. All 120 branches in Merseyside and 130 out of 150 in Manchester were closed, Bifu said. A further 171 in northern England and the Midlands were closed. In the South- east some branches closed.
Leif Mills, Bifu's general secretary, has written to the bank's chairman, Sir Nicholas Goodison, asking for new talks. The union will meet in Birmingham on Tuesday to plan selective stoppages.
Philip Gibbs, banking analyst with BZW, said the effect of the strike on TSB was likely to be adverse publicity but with no material financial impact.
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