Lloyds Bank is to “derecognise” its biggest union, which represents more than 25,000 staff, in a remarkable breakdown in industrial relations at Britain’s biggest retail bank.
Lloyds Trade Union, which has represented staff for more than a century, has accused the bank of seeking revenge following recent actions by the union. The LTU strenuously opposed changes to the Lloyds pension scheme, calling an industrial ballot, and has won millions of pounds for 10,000 female staff following a lengthy legal battle.
LTU general secretary Mark Brown said: “Lloyds is paying us back for being a thorn in their side, but we are going to continue to be a thorn in their side.” In future, LTU will be excluded from formal negotiations over pay and conditions at the bank, although it can continue to represent individual members of staff.
But in an extraordinary twist, the derecognition of the LTU has won the endorsement of Unite and Accord, the two other unions formally representing staff at Lloyds, as well as the TUC. Since Lloyds took over Halifax and Bank of Scotland during the financial crisis, it has sought to simplify its labour relations, but said that after several years of negotiations, overseen by ACAS, it had no choice but to derecognise the LTU.
In a statement, it said: ““Disappointingly, following three years of discussions, Accord, Unite and the Group have concluded that LTU are not prepared to work in a collaborative and constructive way with our other recognised unions or with the group. As a result, we have decided to end our formal recognition agreement with LTU.”
Frances O’Grady, general secretary of the TUC, welcomed the new labour relations deal at Lloyds, saying: “Unions are at their strongest when they work together.”
The derecognition of the LTU comes amid simmering tensions between unions at the negotiating table at Lloyds, which has shed more than 50,000 jobs and cut hundreds of branches since the credit crunch.
Ged Nicholls, general secretary of Accord, which represents 22,000 staff who joined Lloyds from Halifax, said: “LTU do not approach industrial relations in any way that I’m familiar with over the last 30 years. They have refused to cooperate with other unions and the bank. Just because they shout louder does not mean that they are any more effective.”
Nicholls said that in the latest round of pay negotiations, Accord and Unite managed to secure a 3.25% pay rise for lower-paid workers “which was no mean achievement. But LTU wouldn’t sign it, even though it was a good deal.” He dismissed LTU’s claims about the industrial action it has initiated at Lloyds as “willy-waving”.
Other bust-ups between Accord and LTU have focused on member poaching. LTU is not a member of the TUC and therefore does not have to abide by union agreements not to poach other members.
This article was written by Patrick Collinson, for theguardian.com on Tuesday 14th July 2015 18.40 Europe/Londonguardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010