RBS to axe 2,600 jobs

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The Independent Online

Part-nationalised Royal Bank of Scotland today said it planned to axe 2,600 UK jobs at its insurance and retail banking arms.

RBS said 2,000 jobs are to go at its insurance arm, which includes the Direct Line, Green Flag, Churchill and Privilege businesses and employs 16,000 people.

The bank - 83% owned by the taxpayer - is also shedding 600 of its 2,100 retail banking headquarters staff, based at locations including Edinburgh and London.

The latest cuts bring the total job losses at the business since the crisis began to 22,600 - of which 16,600 have fallen in the UK.

RBS accelerated the plans after the European Commission said it must sell 318 branches as well as the insurance business to soothe competition concerns following its state bail-out.

The bank said: "We are working hard to rebuild RBS in order to repay taxpayers for their support and having to cut jobs is the most difficult part of this process. We have strived at all times to be open and honest about the tough choices we are making.

"We will do all we can to support our staff through this process and do everything possible to keep compulsory redundancy to an absolute minimum."

It added: "So far, the job losses we've announced to date have resulted in fewer than one in four people being made compulsorily redundant."

Unite condemned the latest round of job cuts and said its members would be "devastated" at the news.

The union said that under the proposals, 2,000 jobs out of about 16,000 will go over the next 12 months in the insurance sector, which embraces such household names as Churchill, Direct Line, Green Flag and Privilege.

Also earmarked for the axe are 600 jobs at the retail head office function, which will mainly be centred on the London and Edinburgh offices.

National officer Rob MacGregor said: "Taken together, this is a devastating blow for a dedicated workforce which has worked very hard to turn around the fortunes of RBS following some disastrous decisions by the previous management.

"Unite is completely opposed to compulsory redundancies and will be engaging continually with RBS throughout the consultation period to minimise redundancies, while calling upon the bank to manage these reductions outside of compulsory measures.

"Included within this figure of 2,000 is a reduction of about 500 to be achieved through outsourcing and offshoring, although the bank has confirmed that these would not be customer-facing roles.

"Unite is fundamentally opposed to offshoring, as well as compulsory redundancies."

RBS tried and failed to sell its insurance arm, which is headquartered in Bromley, south east London, before the financial crisis struck.

The division saw operating profits at the division slump last year due to a surge in personal injury claims.

RBS has hiked prices and pulled out of some less profitable insurance lines but the division posted a £170 million loss during the final three months of 2009.

A surge in claims sparked by the winter freeze prevented the insurance arm returning to profit in the first quarter of this year.