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Unite anger that RBS refuses to award staff “fair pay” despite massive bonus announcement for top bankers

23 Feb

Unite, the union representing staff within Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS), has today (Thursday, 23rd February) confronted RBS for failing to offer its workforce a fair pay deal. Talks have broken down following the failure of the bank to make staff a decent pay offer. This comes on the day the bank tells the city it will pay investment bankers a total bonus pot of £390m.

If RBS split the massive bonus pot it is awarding its investment bankers between the 60,000 average bank workers, they would have a real opportunity to pay their household bills and change the life of their family. The bonus pot would give these low paid employees approximately £6,000, which amounts to simply loose change for a city slicker.

Unite has launched a national campaign amongst RBS staff to inform them that some 28,000 RBS workers will receive no pay rise. Unite is appalled that while RBS can afford to pay large bonuses to city bankers, it refuses to recognise the contribution of the vast majority of the staff.

Unite has written to staff at their home address urging them to make their opposition to the pay offer clear by voting in a pay questionnaire. Workers have expressed to the union that they simply can not afford to pay their bills, travel to work and pay their mortgages, when their employer is in effect giving them a pay cut.

David Fleming, Unite national officer, said: “It beggars belief that this 84 per cent taxpayer backed institution is imposing a pay cut on its hard working frontline staff, while continuing to pay the city bankers ridiculously large bonuses.

“This hypocrisy will infuriate the workforce, who have continued to work under the hardest of conditions. Instead of walking away from pay talks RBS should be reconsidering its derisory pay offer. Unite is now asking its members whether they can accept the deal and are seeking members views on the proposal.

“How does RBS expect staff to accept its claims of poverty and this ludicrous pay offer, when there is clearly enough money flowing into the hands of its top bankers and traders?”

In the massive communication exercise, Unite is contacting RBS staff using posted materials, emails and text messages. 

– Ends –

 For more information please contact Saba Mozakka, Unite on: 07768 693 953.

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Award ceremony at RBS Greenock

20 Jan

A group of Unite union learners recently participated in an awards ceremony at the Royal Bank of Scotland mortgage centre in Greenock.

The learners were presented with certificates by Stow College for courses they completed in Understanding Pensions and Computing. The courses were delivered as part of the active lifelong learning project on that site.

The learning programme was launched on 15 July last year, and a learning survey was conducted, gaining 226 responses – more than a quarter of the workforce. The learning programme was designed to meet this need. In addition to the courses mentioned above, there are also courses running in Spanish and British Sign Language, with a further British Sign Language course due to start on 24 January, and Communications on 1 February.

To address some of the higher level skills, the Open University will hold an open day on site on 27 January. We hope to be able to replicate the successful partnership programme we have with the OU at Rolls-Royce.

The lifelong learning programme at RBS Greenock started when ULR Sonya Cassidy and workplace rep Stephen McCauley did their training in November 2010. After meeting with management in February and developing a plan, the lifelong learning project was officially launched in July last year, with the open day and online survey.

Sonya and Stephen have also succeeded in recruiting other reps, and are in the process of setting up a workplace branch. They have also created a branch website.

By organising at work, creating effective structures and having visible union activity that responds to members’ needs, the reps have been very successful at recruiting too. RBS Greenock is a Unite 100% target, meaning it is a workplace where we have recognition, but we’re working to increase our density and quality of representation. When Sonya and Stephen came on board, density on site was very low. It has since risen by more than a 100%, and new members are continuing to join, encouraged by the reps effective response to their needs.

Because this approach has been so successful, we are hoping to be able to replicate it at other RBS and finance sector sites.

 

 

Pension Talks Breakdown as NAG Management Try To Impose a 9% Pay Cut

4 Oct

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Talks between Unite and National Australia Group (NAG) management have broken down over proposed changes to the Defined Benefit Pensions Scheme.

Background
Unite were informed by NAG management that they would need to make changes to the Defined Benefit Pension Scheme. As you may know DB schemes have come under attack, both in the Public and Private Sector over the last few years as employers try to contain the cost of their schemes and manage increasing deficits.
In NAG the main reason put forward for the changes to your scheme is that there have been lower than expected returns on investments coupled with the much talked about increase in life expectancy of the scheme members which puts a strain on the fund. However, what the management have not told you is that for many years, up until 2005, NAG chose to take a pension holiday. This means that your employer did not pay any contributions into the DB Scheme at all for a period of time, the reason for this is that the scheme was in substantial profit at the time, by stopping all contribution’s allowed NAG to avoid a huge tax liability.This is not the only reason why the scheme has a massive deficit but NAG cannot continue to blame the economic crisis for the deficit. One thing is very clear, it is the loyal hard working employees that are now being asked to pay for this.

What progress has been made?
NONE – When we last communicated with you in June we reported that the deficit was over £300 million we have now been informed that this has increased to £555 million. Unite find this astonishing given the fact that three years ago the scheme was in profit. We know that the company continues to make substantial profit.

What does this mean for Unite members?
At a meeting on the 24th August the Bank informed Unite that in order to reduce the deficit members will have to make contributions reaching 9% over the next 3 years in order to retain the same benefits that you expect to receive when you retire. NAG would not listen to any other options Unite suggested all of which would have mitigated the impact of these proposals – this is why it is imperative that we all stand united in our fight back to stop NAG imposing its proposals. We know that most of our members are low paid workers and will not be able to afford to pay the amount that is being asked from NAG, it also means that members of the DB scheme essentially taking a pay cut of 9% over the next 3 years OR it means that members would have to receive an average pay rise of 8.5% every year for the next 3 years just to cover the cost of living and pension contributions. We all know that the chance of that happening is ZERO.

The fight back begins
You will by now have seen the letter that has been sent out to you by your employer informing you that a 60 day consultation period will begin. During this time Unite will be asking you, our members, to carry out a number of activities in order to ensure that your voice is heard.

Activity 1
At a meeting of the NAG Unite National Committee it was agreed to hold a consultative ballot to see if members are prepared to be formally balloted to take part in some form of action. This will be determined by the NAG National Committee and supported by the Unite Executive Council if no agreement can be negotiated. This will be our last resort so we urge you the members to support this so we can fight to preserve your benefits.

To assist in this can you ensure that all of your details are up to date i.e. name, address private email address and telephone numbers.

Activity 2
Send an email to the CEO to voice your concerns regarding the company’s proposals and what they are trying to impose on loyal hard working employees. The more feedback sent to the company the harder it will be for them to ignore you. This must be done as soon as possible. Please copy in the union when you send your email, our address is at the bottom of the newsletter.

Contact Details
Did you know that you can find out more about Unite in NAG on Brian by clicking the “my Career” tab at the top of your business unit home page, scroll to and click on the Unite logo from there you can access details of Unite workplace Reps in NAG.

If you have any queries, please contact:

Patricia Prior – Senior Rep (Scotland)
Mobile: 07712 790554
Email: Patricia.Prior@eu.nabgroup.com

Sally Hill – Senior Rep (England)
Mobile: 07712 790548
Email: Sally.Hill@eu.nabgroup.com

John Nolan, UNITE National Secretary
Tel: 0845 601 06537

If you are sending a copy of your email that has been sent to the CEO please send it to nag@unitetheunion.org
Should you know of any non members who would like to join the UK’s biggest Union please tell them to join online or call the Recruitment hotline Free on 0330 123 3003

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Lindsey shows off her sign language skills

23 Mar

Lindsey Millen is a senior Union Learning Rep for Unite at Clydesdale Bank head office in Glasgow. She has arranged lots of courses for her colleagues, including one in British Sign Language.

Here she is showing off her newly acquired skills.

Sign Language at Lloyds Atlantic Quay

23 Mar

Unite members at Lloyds TSB at Atlantic Quay in Glasgow recently finished the second module of their Signature British Sign Language level one course. The course was organised by Unite Learning Rep Andy Moffat, and delivered by Cardonald College in the workplace.

The course was popular, and members enjoyed getting to grip on sign language. We are hoping to be able to fund a third module shortly that will bring members up to a full level one qualification.

“The tutor was amazing and the group all worked well together.  It is a such an enjoyable course and can’t thank you enough for organising it.”  – MA

The learners in the picture are spelling out “BSL” and “Unite”.

Lifelong Learning in National Australia Group

6 Jan

Unite signed a learning agreement with National Australia Group (NAG) – covering Yorkshire and Clydesdale Banks – in April 2009. The agreement commits Unite and the company to create a joint Learning Partnership Committee to negotiate collectively around skills and learning in the workplace. This includes the union having input into the company training offer, and the company facilitating learning organised by the union.

The project was initially led by senior workplace reps in Glasgow (Clydesdale Bank) and Leeds (Yorkshire Bank). Over the past 18 months a number of Union Learning Reps (ULRs) have been trained, and activity is beginning to devolve to workplace level.

The union and company meet on a quarterly basis to negotiate learning and training issues. This includes negotiating release for ULRs to organise learning in the workplace. The ULR network is growing, and ULRs conducted a company-wide learning needs analysis of NAG staff. Learning activity was officially launched at World Book Day in March 2010, and ULRs have subsequently organised learning in a number of workplaces.

Because learning and skills is a devolved issue, there is some difference in the way this has proceeded in the different countries. The union in Scotland was able to successfully bid for ESF and other funding to deliver courses at the workplace. In the past nine months, this has resulted in over a hundred staff at two Scottish sites in Glasgow and Clydebank taking part in accredited learning, including Open University Openings courses, European Computer Drivers’ License, Spanish and British Sign Language. Courses have run in the workplace at the end of the working day, with staff giving up their own time to participate.

The courses have been delivered by Further Education colleges, and have evaluated very well. The quality of provision has been excellent, with the colleges providing a highly professional service to sound pedagogical principles, adapting learning to suit the diverse needs of adult learners in the workplace. Staff particularly embraced the Sign Language courses, and we believe this is a potential public relations goldmine for the bank, as it demonstrates a commitment to social inclusion issues. Indeed, course participants have taken an interest in deaf issues, attending community events. We believe it is worth exploiting this angle with the bank as part of a CSR commitment, and we hope it will result in the bank committing resources.

ULRs in England arranged successful Festivals of Learning at the Leeds branches of Yorkshire Bank, Merion Way and Brunswick Point. These events gave bank staff the opportunity to participate in workshops on a number of craft-related skills, as well as digital photography, healthy eating and family history. ULRs also streamed staff towards the union’s learning centres. ULRs are currently negotiating with colleges to arrange workplace learning. Because funding arrangements are different in England, reps have had to be innovative to provide opportunities for staff. They have done this by working closely with partner organisations, for instance by getting a mental health charity to run an emotional well-being course.

Over the past few months, there have been moves to roll the learning programme out across the branch network in Scotland with a series of branch visits. This has resulted in the recruitment of new members as well as new activists. Staff in a number of retail branches have completed the learning survey, and plans are being developed to run courses from flagship branches. We expect these to be delivered by partner colleges. Initial surveys show that the need for skills development is much greater in retail branches, where staff get fewer opportunities for learning and training. This allows the union to make a real, substantive difference to people’s lives, by helping them achieve accredited qualifications.

The learning programme has been delivered by the self-activity of a growing number of motivated union learning reps, who have canvassed their workplaces and used a number of innovative and creative approaches to engage staff in new ways. ULRs have begun to provide specialist support to members, by interviewing them about their learning needs and providing information, advice and guidance.

ULRs also visited both Westminster and the Scottish Parliament and articulately addressed politicians about the benefit of union learning to bank staff, the wider community and the economy as a whole.

The success of the project in NAG has had the welcome effect of providing leverage with other finance sector employers, and in Scotland new courses are running in Scottish Widows and Lloyds TSB, along a similar model. We have also recruited reps and made the first steps towards learning programmes at a number of HBoS, Capita, RBS and Royal Sun Alliance sites.

The company’s participation in the Learning Partnership Committee has not always been satisfactory, and it has been difficult to get substantial commitments from them. Nonetheless, we believe the union has demonstrated what can be achieved through learning, and that this puts us in a good position to negotiate increased facility time and other resources from the company in future.

This project has just begun to establish itself, and plans are to develop it comprehensively and work towards coverage for all staff. It benefits both individual union members, who are able to up skill in their chosen area, and the business. We also trust it heralds a phase of positive and constructive industrial relations, as the union and company work together to bring new opportunities for staff.