Nationalised lender Northern Rock is planning to cut up to 650 jobs by the end of the year, it has emerged.
The firm has launched a consultation with trade union Unite over the latest cuts, which are aimed at reducing costs ahead of an eventual return to the private sector.
Northern Rock has been in public ownership since February 2008 after becoming an early casualty of the credit crunch and being propped up by the Bank of England.
The lender will look to avoid compulsory job losses where possible, but chief executive Gary Hoffman said it was “important that we continue to deliver value for taxpayers.”
The union's national officer, Rob MacGregor, said: “It is unacceptable that we are now seeing rash decisions based on a short-term management strategy in order to make Northern Rock appear more attractive to a private seller.
“It is now essential that there is political intervention to prevent this business being dramatically scaled back and prepared for sale.”
The group's final salary pension scheme — which closed to new entrants in 1999 — will now also be closed to existing members, Northern Rock added, although it will improve the terms of its cheaper money purchase scheme.
Mr Hoffman acknowledged that the job losses meant “an unsettling time” for the group's employees.
However, he also said that the group would work with local agencies such as One North East to support those affected.