Saturday 21 July 2018

Pressure on TSB boss as union newsletters show bank unprepared for IT changes

The TBU union is not recognised by TSB but represents over 4,000 staff members.

TSB has been grappling with the aftermath of its IT meltdown in April (PA)
TSB has been grappling with the aftermath of its IT meltdown in April (PA)

By Kalyeena Makortoff, Press Association Chief City Correspondent

Pressure is mounting on TSB boss Paul Pester after damning new details emerged over rushed preparations for a major IT migration that sparked a banking meltdown in April.

Union newsletters containing staff concerns dating back to September have been released by the Treasury Select Committee, which has been scathing in its response to the IT debacle and called for the chief executive to be sacked.

The TBU union – which is not recognised by the bank but represents around 4,000 staff – quoted bank branch workers as saying there was a “growing concern that we are running out of time” on training ahead of a planned migration of customer data from former owner Lloyds’ IT system to a new one managed by current owner Sabadell.

It also noted that some branch managers were rated “off-track” for failing to have staff trained and “migration ready” by the original deadline of November, which was subsequently delayed.

Union newsletters also noted rumours the delay was due to the systems not being fully functional yet, with some of the coding “not up to scratch”.

In early April, the TBU warned that despite TSB’s confidence in the wake of an IT migration dress rehearsal, members were relaying “worrying” feedback that should have been “taken seriously by the bank”.

Staff are frightened that if they raise issues regarding the new system, and those not deemed to be wholly positive, that will be used against them. TBU newsletter

Staff were reporting more ATM outages than normal, with customers having difficulties navigating new machines, while further advances on mortgages were stopped until after the migration.

Workers said they were not given enough time to complete new workbooks, which they were skimming so that direct line mangers could report that staff were “migration ready”.

“Staff are frightened that if they raise issues regarding the new system, and those not deemed to be wholly positive, that will be used against them.

“Indeed, some staff who have raised issues have been told they are ‘not exhibiting the right kind of behaviours’ by line mangers,” the April 5 newsletter explained.

The union also speculated that the bank had no incentive to delay the IT migration a second time, as it would “see TSB heads roll” and that Sabadell’s “already damaged reputation for introducing new IT platforms on time and to budget will be lost completely”.

After the rollout finally took place on the weekend of April 20, up to 1.9 million people using TSB’s digital and mobile banking found themselves locked out of their bank accounts, while branches also faced issues.

In a response to the union newsletters, a TSB spokeswoman said: “As we have said throughout, we would never have moved across to the new system if we didn’t believe we were ready.

“We are of course undertaking a full investigation.”

In the chaos that followed, staff were working from 7am to 8pm to ensure everyday tasks – including completing transactions like cheques – were completed, the union newsletter explained.

There were also complaints that error messages on the new system created by Sabadell were coming up in Spanish, while some actions were direct translations from Spanish which made interpretation of specific banking actions unclear.

“Staff training on the Proteo4UK platform was a joke … In many cases staff were simply rushed through the training to meet area targets and in other cases the training was simply inadequate,” the union said.

As recently as June 5, a union newsletter reported that the telephony system for simple transactions was not working and staff were using a branch system for which they received no training.

Customer verification was also causing problems, raising concerns that would-be fraudsters were getting through the system.

TSB’s spokeswoman said: “TSB has built its reputation by focusing on our customers and the customer service that we provide.

“Our 8,700 partners have done an exceptional job in supporting our customers in the face of TSB’s recent IT issues. Together, we are doing whatever it takes to put things right.

“At TSB we involve our unions in decisions we make about our business. We engage closely with our two recognised unions, Unite and Accord, and we hope that the Treasury Select Committee will also listen to the feedback that their members provide.”

Press Association

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