The 'shocked and stunned' workers drown their sorrows

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The Independent Online
BY 3pm yesterday the Vaults wine bar in Chiswell Street in the City was thronged with fast-drinking workers and knee-deep in carrier bags. No one, unfortunately, had been shopping.

About 50 sacked Stock Exchange staff, along with their bags of possessions, were drowning their sorrows in the subterranean gloom. They were mostly contract workers, ousted with a month's pay. Some had worked for the exchange for five years.

Half an hour earlier they and hundreds of others had learned the bad news from the chief operating officer, Jane Barker, in the Brewery conference centre, just across the road.

After an eternity trying to switch on the microphone and adjust it to the right height, she announced that all work on Taurus had been suspended and their services were no longer required. There were no questions.

'We were shocked and stunned,' said a strangely cheerful pint of 6X. 'We saw the writing on the wall when it was in the paper yesterday,' responded a Brakspears.

A loyal half of lager defended his boss: 'I don't think Peter Rawlins was to blame.' Most ill- feeling was against Coopers & Lybrand, the consultants whose report put the final nail in Taurus.

According to another sacked contract worker, Ellen Bishop, a computer team leader, 'It's a disaster for the City. It puts us behind the rest of Europe. Basically they (the Stock Exchange board) have bottled out and we've all been Coopered]'

Amid the bonhomie there was sadness and puzzlement. 'We were so far down the line with Taurus, it was crazy to scrap it,' said a pint of Old Speckled Hen.

Another sacked worker said: 'It has been a badly managed project.' One worry was that with so many computer staff coming on to the market at the same time, work would be very hard to find.

One sacked employee, Caroline Heron, manager of computer testing, warned that the support team that works on the existing Talisman settlements system had also gone. 'They've basically axed everybody. They haven't thought this through. It's political rather than rational,' she said.

The job losses would extend far beyond the Stock Exchange, she claimed, with 150 organisations testing Taurus, some with dedicated teams of as many as 40: 'They must be for the chop.

'And if you quote me, make sure you say I'm looking for a job,' she added.