RBS losses hit £2bn

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Taxpayer-backed Royal Bank of Scotland remained at the heart of the row over bankers’ pay today as it unveiled total losses of £2bn for 2011 at the same time as paying £785m in bonuses to its staff.

RBS, which is 82 per cent state-owned after receiving a £45.5bn bailout at the height of the financial crisis, said the bonus pool included £390m for its 17,000 investment bankers.

While the total pot is 43 per cent lower than the previous year, it follows a period in which the bank announced thousands of job cuts as it scales back its investment arm Global Banking and Markets.

It also follows a turbulent period for the bank in which chief executive Stephen Hester was forced to waive his £963,000 all-shares bonus amid public outrage over bankers’ pay.

The bank, which employs 146,800 staff, revealed wider total losses of £2bn in 2011, compared with £1.1bn in 2010, which included a near £1bn hit for mis-sold payment protection insurance compensation.

Unite said it had confronted RBS for failing to offer its workforce a fair pay deal, adding that talks have broken down.

“If RBS split the massive bonus pot it is awarding its investment bankers between the 60,000 average bank workers, they would have a real opportunity to pay their household bills and change the life of their family,” said the union.

“The bonus pot would give these low-paid employees approximately £6,000, which amounts to simply loose change for a City slicker.”

David Fleming, Unite national officer, said: “It beggars belief that this 84 per cent taxpayer-backed institution is imposing a pay cut on its hard-working frontline staff, while continuing to pay the City bankers ridiculously large bonuses.

“This hypocrisy will infuriate the workforce, who have continued to work under the hardest of conditions. Instead of walking away from pay talks, RBS should be reconsidering its derisory pay offer.

“Unite is now asking its members whether they can accept the deal and are seeking members’ views on the proposal.

“How does RBS expect staff to accept its claims of poverty and this ludicrous pay offer when there is clearly enough money flowing into the hands of its top bankers and traders?”