UNITE, Britain’s biggest union, has accused Royal Bank of Scotland and the Government of an “astonishing betrayal” after the bank awarded £576m in bonuses despite suffering an £8.2bn loss.
Unite national officer, Rob MacGregor described the bonuses at the taxpayer-backed lender as “a state sponsored grab by greedy senior bankers”.
He added: “Taxpayers suffering a cost of living crisis have been betrayed and fleeced.”
Joining a chorus of criticism from across the political spectrum, Mr MacGregor accused Chancellor George Osborne of giving RBS “the green light to indulge in grotesque levels of corporate greed in the midst of historic losses”.
Mr MacGregor added: “In allowing this behaviour, he is proving he has learnt nothing and is treating ordinary bank workers and working people with utter contempt.
“George Osborne should come before Parliament to explain to the people of this country why he is allowing their money to be misused in this way, especially when living standards have dropped and people have even lost their jobs because of the banking crisis.”
Despite calls for bonuses to be curtailed, RBS chief executive Ross McEwan insisted the payments have a role to play in attracting and retaining the best staff.
Mr McEwan pledged to rebuild trust in the group with a mammoth overhaul that will slash costs by £5bn within three years and see it shrink from seven divisions to three.
Mr McEwan conceded that bonuses were a “highly emotional issue” but insisted they were necessary to attract the best workforce.
A Treasury spokesman said yesterday: “The Chancellor said last year that he wanted RBS to be a bank that is focused on lending to British businesses and families.
The plan, announced by Ross McEwan and the board today, delivers that vision and is further evidence of RBS’s new management getting to grips with the problems of the past and taking the bank in its new direction.”
RBS employs 6,000 staff in Yorkshire and it has 80,000 business customers in the region.