Lloyds Banking Group has bowed to union pressure and told branch staff working in the Banking Hall that they can now use the Government’s Test and Trace app, if they want.

TSB has instructed all its branch staff -wherever they work – to turn off the Government’s Test and Trace app whilst at work. That is a clear breach of both the letter and spirit of the Government’s guidelines, which is why Lloyds changed its position last week. The union told TSB that if it didn’t change its position it would write to Public Health England, Public Health Wales, Public Health Scotland, the FCA and MPs. Like Lloyds, TSB has also come under pressure from the national media, who picked up the union’s Newsletter and questioned the wisdom of telling frontline bank staff to disable the Test and Trace app.

In our Newsletter we said:

“The bank may seek to argue that staff in branches are working behind Perspex screens and exempt from using the app whilst at work. However, the reality in many branches is quite different. There are thousands of staff doing the welcome role, monitoring doors and helping with ATM and IDM machines who come into contact with large volumes of customers on a daily basis. Those staff are not behind Perspex screens. And many of those staff behind Perspex screens, may be called upon to help out their colleagues in the front of the branch at any time. We also know that many customers are either not wearing face coverings because they have exemptions or are fraudulently claiming exemptions. A member of staff could be exposed to contact with someone who later proves to be Covid positive but won’t know because the NHS app is not being utilised by the bank. Equally, a customer who speaks to a TSB member of staff who later turns out to be infected would want to be notified. We all would, that’s why 14 million of us have downloaded the app”.

TSB should do the right thing for staff and customers now. A copy of the Union’s letter to MPs can be found here.

Members with any questions on this should contact the Union’s Advice Team on 01234 716029 (choose Option 1).

The Beginning Of The End?

Banco Sabadell has confirmed that TSB’s plan to find £100 million of savings will be pushed through by the end of 2021 rather than 2022. Jaime Guardiola, the Chief Executive of Banco Sabadell, said: “In the UK, we will likely bring forward the cost reduction plan that was intended to be achieved in three years to two years, and complete the whole reduction”.

The clear implication of Banco Sabadell’s announcement is that TSB’s cost reduction programme will continue apace next year and more branches, contact centres, processing centres and offices will be closed or scaled back. The inevitable consequence of this is that more jobs will be lost. Equally, what’s also clear is that Sabadell will try and sell the business in 2022 and Virgin Money, which was taken over by Clydesdale Bank – Debbie Crosbie’s old employer – seems the perfect candidate. Darren Pope, TSB’s Chief Financial Officer, is a Non-Executive Director of Virgin Money. It could be that Mrs Crosbie is on a very long sabbatical!

TSB has already admitted that: “The new network will have an average of 17,000 customers per branch, which remain below the UK average”. That’s not going to be sustainable if TSB does nothing to attract new customers to the business, which it’s not going to do if the new TSB ‘Save and Spend’ account is anything to go by. To say the new product is neither innovative nor exciting in an understatement. The Virgin Money current account lets you set up unlimited saving pots and pays out 0.5% on the lot and that’s in addition to the 2.02% it pays on the first £1,000 in your main account. The other feature of the TSB account is transaction round ups. Halifax, Lloyds, Starling and Monzo have been doing that for ages. If TSB is not going to get progressively smaller, then it needs to come up with products and or services that are going to attract new customers. TSB started off wanting to change the face of UK banking but now it’s in danger of becoming a bit player or, worse, losing its independence altogether. Staff deserve better than that.

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