Unite delegate Lindsey Adams moved an emergency motion on behalf of the 80,000 members of Unite’s finance sector at TUC conference on Wednesday (September 12).
She slammed RBS for its latest announcement that it would be closing another 54 local bank branches, many of which are located in the North West.
“That brings the cull to 216 branches in the last nine months,” she said. “That’s 1,300 jobs gone. 1,300 livelihoods lost. 1,300 workers forced to pay the price for the reckless actions of the boardroom.”
Lindsey urged conference not to “feel sorry for the CEO of RBS who had a 6 per cent pay cut in 2017, taking his pay down to a measly £3.5m.”
“For the finance sector the last decade has been one long, steady drum beat of branch closures, back office cuts and off-shoring,” she noted. “At RBS alone 36,000 workers have lost their jobs since 2008.
“It’s hard to believe that it’s been a decade since the banking crisis,” Linsdey went on to say. “None of us have been spared the bitter years of austerity that followed it.
“Every job that is off-shored is an example of the boardrooms forcing workers to pay for the crisis they did not cause. We were the victims then and we continue to be victims now.”
Lindsey hailed teachers, nurses, social workers, firefighters and Post Office workers, who she noted will bear the brunt of many RBS branch closures as the bank advises customers to go to their nearest Post Offices which, she said, “will only add to their workload.”
“We are all paying the price of austerity,” he noted. “Every branch closure not only erodes public trust in banks ever further – it exposes, as if proof were needed, that the boardrooms have learnt nothing.
“In the face of this offensive our front-line workplace reps have fought tooth and nail – and now we need your help.”
Lindsey described how Unite has organised an innovative campaign that brings RBS staff together with communities, pensioners, bank customers and fellow trade unionists from across the North West and Scotland to stop the closures.
She added that Unite will be joining the Change Finance rally at in the City of London on September 15, the tenth anniversary of the financial crisis, to send a clear message to both boardrooms and the government.
“We will not pay for your crisis,” she said. “We will not allow boardrooms to take the axe to jobs in order to prop up a financial system that is as rigged and broken as it ever has been.
“We will not sleep walk into another financial crisis. We must not forget that 62 per cent of RBS is still owned by the taxpayer – that’s you and me, Congress.
“That means the government could step in at any time to use that stake to bring proper scrutiny to the boardroom,” Lindsey pointed out. “They could use that stake to support bank workers and the communities who rely on them.
“They could use that stake to transform banks – from public enemy number one to a tool for transforming our economy, for the benefit of the many not the few.”
Lindsey closed her speech with a quote from the late trade union leader Bob Crow – “When you fight, you may not always win. But if you don’t fight you will always lose.”
Slamming the Royal Bank of Scotland as “Right Bloody Scandal, more like,” she urged congress for their support in their fight against branch closures.
The emergency motion was carried.