Concerns have been raised over claims that staff employed in one of Britain’s biggest banks are being be asked to redecorate dilapidated branches — in their own time.
The head office suggestion that staff help out with “painting, tidying up and general do it yourself” was revealed in a leaked internal memo posted on the Royal Bank of Scotland’s (RBS) internal staff website.
Members of its Ulster Bank workforce, an RBS subsidiary and one of Ireland’s big four banks, have already been asked to volunteer and plans to roll out the scheme across the country are already underway. However, one Irish Independent source claimed there were no plans “at the present time” to extend the scheme to branches in the Dublin area.
The request has also gone out to UK staff directly employed by RBS and its NatWest subsidiary. It is still uncertain which department of the Edinburgh-headquartered banking group issued the suggestion that staff “join forces to help improve the branch network in Britain” after 400 branches were found to need help with technical and property repairs.
Work on specialised information technology and heating systems will be carried out professionally, but RBS is asking “colleagues from across the bank to play their part and help to improve their local RBS or NatWest branch… as part of Branch Force”.
The internal memo also makes it plain the repair request is voluntary and stresses that no extra pay is being offered, with branch counter and backroom staff taking on the DIY work outside normal working hours.
On both sides of the Irish border Ulster Bank workers are represented by Irish Bank Officials Association. Its general secretary, Larry Broderick, admitted he had not heard of the RBS Branch Force suggestion, but that it did raise “concerns” for the union.
“Is it really appropriate for one of the world’s leading banking organisations to come over like a charity, depending on voluntary effort for basic maintenance of its public offices?” he said.
With 82 per cent of RBS shares still owned by the UK Government, the bank is no stranger to financial controversies. In 2010, more than 100 senior executives were paid in excess of £1m each in bonuses, even though RBS reported losses of £1.1bn for the year. During the fall-out former chief executive officer Fred Goodwin was stripped of his knighthood.
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