Belfast Telegraph

Barclays to axe another 1,700 jobs

Barclays has been accused of making a "colossal mistake" over plans to axe 1,700 jobs across its branch network.

Unite warned that customer service could suffer as result of the cuts.

The union said Barclays informed its workforce that it will be cutting 1,700 frontline roles, including cashiers, personal bankers, operational specialists, branch managers and assistant managers throughout 2014.

Unite national officer Dominic Hook said: "It's a colossal mistake for Barclays Bank to announce 1,700 job cuts across its bank branches.

"These employees deliver high levels of service that customers of the bank benefit from. Such a massive reduction will be very detrimental to the bank and will also be hugely challenging for the staff remaining.

"Unite is pressing Barclays to reconsider this proposal for the sake of its reputation for high customer service. Consumers want to engage with knowledgeable, highly experienced, professional staff. By taking 1,700 of the workforce away, Barclays risks massive reputational damage.

"Members in branches will be facing a period of considerable uncertainty in the current harsh economic climate.

"Unite will now be having further urgent discussions with Barclays to put alternative proposals to the bank. Barclays has already agreed to Unite's demands for a voluntary redundancy register, to set up training grants for colleagues leaving Barclays, and to compensate colleagues who volunteer to reduce their working hours.

"The union will also be seeking firm assurances that there will be no compulsory redundancies following the completion of the voluntary exercise.

"Unite is challenging the view that customers prefer to bank using machines instead of the dedicated staff currently working in Barclays branches across the country."

Unite said the news comes on top of last week's announcements of the closure of the Coventry and Dartford centres, which put around 600 workers at risk of redundancy.

A Barclays spokesman said: "The way in which our customers access their banking services is changing rapidly.

"More and more people are choosing to use smartphones and technology for everyday transactions - using branches only when they need access to expertise.

"We are responding by investing in the channels that customers are increasingly using, whilst improving customer service.

"This means training staff so they can provide that expert support but also reducing staffing levels in our branches where there is over-capacity.

"As a result of technological changes, we will be able to provide better service for our customers with fewer staff in our branches. Today we have outlined a voluntary redundancy scheme for those colleagues who are interested.

"We are committed to working with our impacted colleagues so that they are fully consulted and have access to the support and services they require."