Unite the Union

Unite the Union

February 21, 2008 11:00 ET

Union Leader Calls for Guarantees on Jobs and Shares for Northern Rock Staff

LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM--(Marketwire - Feb. 21, 2008) -

Embargoed until 16.00 Thursday 21st of February 2008

For the attention of political, business and news editors

The General Secretary of Unite, Britain's biggest union, Derek Simpson, today (Thursday 21st February) gave details of the demands he will be putting to the new executive chairman, Ron Sandler, and to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rt Hon Alistair Darling MP on behalf of the Northern Rock workforce.

Mr Simpson identified specific measures which would provide future job security for the employees of Northern Rock and stability and future prosperity for the company.

Unite, the only union representing staff at Northern Rock, wants a workforce representative on the new management board currently being put together by Mr Sandler. The union hopes a workers representative on the board would be able to minimise job losses that result from restructuring plans.

Derek Simpson is demanding a guarantee of no compulsory redundancies as a result of restructuring the bank. "If there are any redundancies we will be seeking redundancy pay rates equivalent to the highest in the European Union. In France it can cost up to 10 times more to make worker redundant than in the UK", said Derek Simpson.

Unite wants the shareholding held by employees of Northern Rock to be treated differently from those of private individuals, the institutions and hedge funds. As the shareholding was received as part of their remuneration package should be treated as deferred wages. The union is suggesting that these shares be transferred into bonds and redistributed to the holders as shares priced at market value on the resale of the company to the private sector.

Unite General Secretary, Derek Simpson said: "Our members in Northern Rock have endured many months of uncertainty and insecurity as a result of the failure of the bank. They were not responsible for its failure and they should not be expected to pay the price for it.

"The future viability of the bank both as a public company and as a private one if it is resold will depend heavily on the skills and dedication of the staff. Now that Northern Rock has been taken into public ownership the government and the new management of the company have the opportunity, and we believe a moral obligation to recognise the value of the staff and their rights as stakeholders."

Note to Editors

Derek Simpson will be appearing on BBC1's Question Time this evening in Newcastle. Friday morning Mr Simpson will be meeting Northern Rock staff and management in Newcastle and Sunderland.

Unite is Britain's biggest union with 2.1 million members including 180,000 in financial services. Unite is Labour's biggest affiliate.

Contact Information

  • Saba Mozakka
    07768 693953
    Richard O'Brien
    07768 931 320