Co-op Bank staff at Newton House face job loss threat

STAFF at The Co-operative Banking Group's office in Leek are nervously waiting to hear if the company's plans to axe 350 jobs across the UK will affect them.

The Co-op employs 275 staff at Newton House, off Cheddleton Road, Leek - previously head office of the Britannia Building Society.

In 2009, Britannia controversially merged with what was then Co-op Financial Services (CFS) with the overwhelming support of its members.

The merger saw Britannia chief executive Neville Richardson become chief executive of an enlarged CFS.

The Co-op Banking Group plans to shut 18 branch offices and reduce the number middle management and head office positions.

The bank's chief executive, Andrew Bester, said: "Our people have shown great dedication and commitment to our customers over the past few months, so we are very sorry to announce this news.

"Unfortunately, we're not immune to the impact of recent events, with the historically low base rate affecting the income of all banks and a period of prolonged economic uncertainty ahead, which means it's important we reduce costs and have the right-sized model in place for the future.

"At the same time, we are responding to the continuing shift of more and more customers choosing to bank online, with lower levels of transactions in branches, a trend which has been increasing for some time, across the banking sector and more broadly.

"The bank is in a resilient position given the significant progress progress we've made in recent years, and our focus is on maintaining this as we continue to support our customers through the crisis. We will do all we can to support colleagues through the process with fairness and respect."

A consultation with affected staff has now begun.

Unite union national officer Rob MacGregor said: "Unite will continue to press The Co-operative Bank to put strategies in place to secure as many jobs as possible and avoid compulsory redundancies."



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