Last week former UK Chancellor Nigel Lawson (you know, the 80-year-old Tory Peer who ended his Ministerial career in 1989, and is now best known for his failed economic policies) ploughed into the debate about the future of my firm, The Royal Bank of Scotland.
According to Baron Lawson of Blaby, RBS should now be fully nationalised, and all firm bankers should get no bonuses for their work in 2012 (mainly due to the LIBOR scandal). He told the Financial Times in an interview:
'These (bankers) are not particularly impressive individuals. They’re all of them easily replaced, particularly in today’s labour market'.
But this broadside demonstrates once again how out of touch these political types are; how they fail to understand that almost nobody who had anything to do with the problems the bank is currently facing is still working there - and how they don't seem to realise that RBS relies on its current workforce (with all its institutional knowledge) to follow-through with CEO Hester's plan to turnaround the bank and ultimately repay UK taxpayers.
The likes of Lawson know nothing about running a big business, and about how it's important to keep the workforce onside (after all, what do politicians know about teamwork and the importance of working together ?). And morale is important; no-one works well in an environment where you are constantly being told how useless you are, and how you aren't of any value to the organisation.
RBS employees (the ones that are still there) have had a torrid time over the last few years. The firm has gone through restructuring after restructuring with tens of thousands of our colleagues losing their jobs, the stress levels have got higher year-on-year, and morale has already suffered due to our involvement in a number of banking scandals and the poundings we continue to take from the media. When is enough enough ?
Lawson needs to realise that there are many talented and hardworking employees still working at RBS (most of whom don't earn a fortune), and that their engagement with the recovery plan is absolutely essential. And to suggest that the answer is full nationalisation is an insult to all those people who have given their best over the last few years to try to dig the bank out of this mess.
Now current UK Chancellor George Osborne has apparently told RBS bosses that it's the firm employees, and not taxpayers, who will need to pay the incoming LIBOR fines (thought to be £500m or more). Fair enough - that's another thing we'll take on the chin. We get that. Taxpayers shouldn't foot that bill (I am one too!). But the current RBS staff also shouldn't be made to feel that we are worthless, and that we are all to blame for the firm's current predicament.
And if Baron Lawson wants to start judging people, perhaps he should focus his efforts on the proper targets - the previous hapless executive team, and those staff members whose unethical, or possibly illegal, activities have heaped shame on our firm. It might give you another 15 minutes of fame, Baron Lawson, but it's a cheap shot to pour scorn on those of us here who are doing our best under very difficult circumstances. Back off!
image: © Lisamarie Babik