Monday, 25 June 2012

Heart warming story

Since the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) went belly up, leading to a multi-billion pound bale out by the British taxpayer (in our generosity), the bank has laid off some 11,000 staff, a number that rises to 30,000 taken together with the National Westminster Bank, which also belongs to RBS Group. 

Last week, RBS ‘upgraded’ its computer systems. Since then, for six days, large numbers of RBS and Nat West clients have been unable to check their accounts, while in some cases salaries have not been deposited and standing payments have not been made. Apart from the union, Unite, no-one in the bank seems keen to make any connection with the job losses. 

Stephen Hester, Chief Executive of RBS Group, issued a statement announcing that ‘this should not have happened’. 

Smiling all the way from the bank:
Stephen 'it shouldn't have happened' Hester. A man for our times
I’m often told that we have to continue paying bank executives astronomic sums of money so that we can keep the best with us and not lose them to other countries. If you have to be one of the best to realise that a six-day computer failure is something that shouldn’t have happened, I dread to think what the next echelon, the ones we’d have to put up with if salaries fell, must be like.

That being said, Hester at least had the decency to turn down the near £1 million bonus shareholders voted him back in January. Not because he didn’t deserve it or anything, but because it created bad PR: a lot of people thought that it was a bit much for running a bank funded by the public and which was still making a £2 billion loss.

Instead, Mr Hester agreed to struggle by on his basic salary of £1.2 million. That’s nearly 60 times median earnings in this country, 24 times what an experienced nurse is paid.

Talking about nurses reminds me of the NHS. It’s lost some 26,000 staff in the last two years with the number set to rise to 50,000 or so. Can we expect a few glitches in healthcare too?

And will we find someone paid 24 times as much as a senior nurse to explain that deaths due to undiagnosed cancer ‘should not have happened’?

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