Royal Bank of Scotland axes 3,500 more jobs

Britain’s state-rescued lender Royal Bank of Scotland said Thursday it was cutting another 3,500 jobs, sparking anger from trade union bosses.

An RBS company spokesman told AFP that “3,500 job losses have been announced in the business services division” — which comprises back-office functions such as IT and payment operations.

The lender is shutting 12 of its business services centres at locations across Britain, including Harrogate, Leeds and Liverpool in northern England and Borehamwood, Bristol and Plymouth in the south.

RBS, which is 83-percent state-owned after receiving the world’s biggest banking bailout amid the recent financial crisis, added that the jobs would go between 2011 and 2012.

About one third of the 3,500 job losses are connected to the 318 RBS branches recently sold to Spanish banking giant Santander.

RBS has now axed 23,100 jobs since October 2008 when the bank was ravaged by the global financial crisis and rescued by taxpayers. The majority of the losses have been in Britain.

The group will employ about 160,000 people worldwide after the latest cuts.

“Having to cut jobs is the most difficult part of our work to rebuild RBS and repay taxpayers for their support,” the group said in a statement on Thursday.

“We continue to make efficiencies across our business and adjust our plans in line with the divestments we have been required to make by the European Union.

“We will do all we can to support our staff, offer redeployment opportunities wherever possible and keep compulsory redundancies to an absolute minimum,” RBS added.

The group last month agreed to sell 318 retail branches to Santander after an EU demand that it cut operations in exchange for the billions of pounds (dollars) of state aid it received during the financial crisis.

A source close to the matter said that the group would have two million fewer customers as a result of the forced divestment.

Britain’s biggest trade union meanwhile reacted with fury to the latest jobs cull at the Edinburgh-based group.

“The news that The Royal Bank of Scotland is to cut another 3,500 staff from across the UK is a horror story,” said senior Unite official Rob MacGregor.

“The scale of the cuts announced today beggars belief and staff across the country today will be left reeling from this news.

“We continue to see a financial services sector which thinks the skills and expertise of its staff are a disposable asset with scant regard for the high level of service these very same staff provide to their customers,” he added.

RBS last month revealed it had scraped into a first-half profit during the first six months of 2010, sparking hope that the taxpayer could eventually make a profit from its investment.

The lender made a modest net profit of nine million pounds (11 million euros, 14 million dollars) in the six months to June compared with a loss of 1.04 billion pounds in the first half of 2009.