TSB employees face 650 job cuts in next few days

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TSB, Britain's sixth-biggest bank, will axe 650 jobs from its branch network over the next few days in a restructuring programme aimed at slashing costs and improving branch efficiency.

The job cuts, which TSB revealed last night, will include 400 junior managers. The total exceeds a number outlined in a warning last month, when the bank said that 440 jobs would be shed as part of the merger between the banking and insurance divisions.

The bank said it did not know how many of the cuts would be compulsory. Graham Wallace, a TSB spokesman, said: 'The positions are going. It remains to be seen how things will work out.'

The cuts reflect a labour shakeout in the financial sector similar to that suffered by British manufacturing in the early 1980s. The big four clearing banks alone have cut a fifth of their branch workforce, roughly 50,000, in the past two-and-a-half years.

Analysts expect another 50,000 banking jobs to go before the recession is over.

The banking union Bifu complained when TSB first mooted the present cuts in November that many of them were likely to involve compulsory redundancies.

John Townsend, assistant secretary of Bifu, said last night that the union was conducting a ballot of its members over possible industrial action against TSB. The result of the ballot will be known on 21 December.

He said the union was also calling for an extraordinary general meeting of TSB's shareholders to discuss the job cuts.

Mr Wallace said last night that TSB would brief staff on the job losses over the next few days. The cuts will be spread evenly around the 1,400-branch network, leaving the total roll-call at more than 25,000, he said.

TSB has been under particular pressure to cut costs due to huge property-related bad debts at its merchant bank subsidiary, Hill Samuel.

In 1991 the bank made its first full-year loss but analysts are hopeful it will return to profit with its next annual figures in January.