Union calls on Midland to improve pay offer

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The Independent Online
BANKING union leaders made a last appeal to Midland Bank yesterday to reopen negotiations on a 2.25 per cent pay offer that is the subject of a strike ballot, writes Martin Whitfield.

Leif Mills, general secretary of the Banking, Insurance and Finance Union, urged Keith Whitson, the bank's chief executive, to make an improved offer.

But there is little prospect of any talks before the ballot result on 26 August, as management is likely to see the vote as an indication of the strength of feeling among staff. Bifu sees the pay offer as meagre in the light of Midland's 15 per cent rise in profits to pounds 443m before tax in the first half.

The 20,000 union members being balloted could reject strike action or confine it to a token one- day protest at the imposition of the offer. There is unlikely to be a sustained strike campaign.

Brian Statham, a representative for Bifu at Midland, said: 'It comes when there are record profits and when other sections, like management and engineers, are getting more.'

Midland maintains the pay offer is in line with other financial sectors and is above that granted by Barclays and the TSB. Several banks do not pay a general cost of living increase at all.

The bank is confident of keeping all services open in the event of any disruption, as more than 25,000 staff are not being balloted and could cover for any absences.

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