Unite and Scottish Government to discuss RBS closures
Scottish Government and trade union to put pressure on UK Government over state-owned RBS branch closures
RBS - PA
The Scottish Government has agreed to meet with Unite the Union over the planned closure of local bank branches across Scotland.
Unite labelled the Royal Bank of Scotland’s decision to close 62 branches across Scotland “morally bankrupt” and called on the Scottish Government to help pressure the UK Government to intervene.
In an open letter to the Scottish Government’s Minister for Business, Innovation and Energy, Paul Wheelhouse, Unite’s deputy Scottish Secretary Mary Alexander said: “The directors of RBS made a pledge that they would never close one of their branches when it was ‘the last bank in town’. They have long ago reneged on that promise.”
Alexander added that the closures had more to do with stakeholders’ profits than improving services, saying: “We actually believe RBS is morally bankrupt.”
Unite’s statement initially caused some confusion over what it expects the Scottish Government to do with a bank majority-owned by the UK taxpayer.
The letter to Wheelhouse read: “Unite Scotland is seeking a meeting with you, at your earliest convenience, to consider what the Scottish government is going to do to convince RBS to change course.”
Wheelhouse issued a statement of his own on the issue saying: "I would, of course, be happy to meet with Unite to discuss the impact of closures on staff and customers and their ideas for addressing the closures.”
Echoing a tweet from First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, the Minister added that the Scottish Government does not have regulatory powers over banking, as they remain reserved to Westminster, but said that given that “the UK Government also owns a controlling shareholding in RBS, I would seek to discuss with Unite what pressure we can jointly put on the UK Government to use its position to act in the interests of customers, communities and businesses that will be affected by branch closures.”
RBS received a tax-payer funded bailout after the 2007-08 financial crash of around £45b and as a result, is still 71 per cent owned by the taxpayer.
Despite this, a spokesperson for the bank insisted that a public consultation on the closures was not required: "According to the Access to Banking Standard banks are not required to consult with communities before announcing a closure as Unite suggest."
The UK Treasury insists that it does not interfere with commercial decisions, despite its share in RBS.
According to an RBS statement, the branch closures will also result in around 680 redundancies across Scotland.
The Local Government and Communities Committee published a report following their inquiry on the subject
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The seven-year deal follows similar contracts with Edinburgh and Scottish Borders councils