Northern Rock staff get strong backing from Unite general secretary

Unite general secretary Derek Simpson is this morning meeting with Northern Rock workers in Newcastle and Sunderland as the trade union fights against job cuts at the newly nationalised bank.

Simpson has called on chancellor Alistair Darling and new chairman Ron Sandler to guarantee there would be no compulsory redundancies at the firm.

He travelled to the North East to visit workers in their offices and show his support.

Reports suggest up to half of the 6,000-strong workforce could lose their jobs.

“The employees of Northern Rock are the greatest asset the company has,” Simpson said. “Without their continued hard work and dedication over this difficult period, there would be no Northern Rock to nationalise.”

“Unite members at Northern Rock were not responsible for the failure of the bank, and we will not allow them to pay the price for it. The union will oppose any compulsory redundancies and seek redundancy pay rates that are equivalent to those of European workers in the case of any proposed restructuring.”

Unite, the only union representing staff at Northern Rock, wants a workforce representative on the new management board currently being put together by Sandler.

It also wants the shareholding held by employees of Northern Rock to be treated differently from those of private individuals, the institutions and hedge funds. The union has suggested that these shares be transferred into bonds and redistributed to the holders as shares priced at market value at the time of the eventual resale of the company to the private sector.

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