Read the latest union news and updates including our upcoming 2023 rep elections in September and a report on our win for travel costs.
Our brilliant reps are at the heart of our union. Every day, in workplaces across the country, they support their colleagues on a huge range of issues. But to make sure that we’re doing the best job we can for every member, it’s important that our elected reps are truly representative of our membership and Lloyds Banking Group's workforce.
That’s why we’re particularly encouraging members from Black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds to consider standing in this September’s elections.
As part of our Race Action Plan, we’ve set ourselves the goal of ensuring that Accord’s membership is representative of the ethnicity of all LBG staff, and that our reps reflect that too.
We’ve made good progress since the plan was launched in 2021. We’ve improved the level of ethnic diversity among members and Accord staff, as well as on the Principal Executive Council. But there’s still work to do to ensure that the number of Black, Asian and minority ethnic reps is proportionate to the number of members from those backgrounds.
This couldn’t be more important. Our diversity is our strength and by improving the ethnic diversity of our reps and leaders, we’re ensuring that our union can represent all members equally, can recruit new members from a wide range of backgrounds, and can stand against racism and discrimination wherever they occur.
Errol is an Accord rep based in Halifax. He’s worked for Lloyds Banking Group for nearly twenty years in various roles and would like to see more Black, Asian and minority ethnic members step forward as reps.
Why did you first decide to become an Accord rep?
I decided to become an Accord rep due to the unfairness I had received from managers in the past. At the time I was too scared to speak up, or as they say, ‘rock the boat’. I have also seen how my colleagues have been treated over the years and I felt this could have been conducted in the correct manner. Becoming an Accord rep gives me the opportunity to instil fairness and speak up on behalf of my colleagues.
What have the benefits of the role been for you?
The benefits of being an Accord rep include increasing my knowledge of legislation and broadening my network. There is plenty of support on hand from other Accord reps and I never feel alone. This has increased my confidence and has helped to hone my negotiating skills within my job role and responsibilities. I get a sense of achievement by supporting and guiding other members.
Why would you encourage members from Black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds to put themselves forward in September's rep elections?
I would encourage members from Black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds to put themselves forward in September’s rep elections because I want them to contribute to my work environment and Accord to improve diversity. This can only be good for the organisation and Accord. You can be what you can see!
Being an Accord rep gives me the opportunity to instil fairness and speak up on behalf of my colleagues.
This year, Accord has won significant and positive changes to the travel costs agreement for Lloyds Banking Group colleagues affected by branch closures.
Accord has worked hard to ensure that colleagues won’t be left out of pocket following relocation, securing a commitment from LBG to finance any reasonable additional travel costs associated with moving to a different base branch when an existing branch is closed.
From 1 June 2023, reasonable travel is defined as either 20 miles or one hour travel time one way. And we've secured greater consistency in the application of these definitions. A 20-mile journey that takes more than an hour can no longer be considered reasonable. Similarly, a journey of more than 20 miles that takes less than an hour can no longer be considered reasonable.
But perhaps the most significant change is to the length of time for which the allowance can be paid. Previously, the payment was made for up to two years post-relocation. But now it will be paid until the colleague decides to leave the go-to branch or applies for and obtains a promotion within that branch, with no upper limit on duration.
This is good news for all colleagues affected by recent closure announcements. And the changes to payment duration will also be available to any colleague previously affected by a branch closure, as long they were in receipt of a travel allowance payment on 1 June 2023.
Of course, every branch closure has an impact both on members and on the bank’s customers. For members, there are implications for working time and work-life balance. And customers lose the trusted relationships they’ve formed with LBG staff over many years.
Nevertheless, this agreement represents a significant win for Accord members.
For a long time, the union has been pressing LBG to improve its travel and mobility policy. Assistant General Secretary Jim Fielding, who leads the negotiations, says that he never misses an opportunity to highlight the union’s position on travel costs.
“I’ve always said to LBG that when the bank makes a decision to close a branch, our members shouldn’t have to pick up the tab. Two years on, somebody’s net pay shouldn’t be impacted because of the journeys they’re having to make to go into work.”
This principle has been at the heart of Accord’s negotiating strategy and, over many years, LBG have moved to the same position, which is a big statement from the bank and the basis for the new agreement on travel costs.
According to Jim, this win comes down to “a story of persistence”, of challenging the bank on the detail of the policy, and of a “relentless pursuit of what we know to be right”.
“We’ve arrived at a much better position,” he says. “The 20 mile/one hour rule is unambiguous now. The travel funds aren’t dependent on a minimum of ten miles, it’s any additional travel that you do. And the allowance will be paid in perpetuity, so if I move from Branch A to Branch B and I stay in Branch B in my current role for the rest of my working life, the allowance will be paid for the rest of my working life.”
Accord will continue to build on the progress we’ve achieved so far.
"We have to iron out the finer detail of when this gets reviewed" Jim says. “What I’m telling members is: if you see your travel costs go up because bus fares or train costs or petrol rises, make representations to your line manager for review. And ultimately, I’m trying to get to a position where they build in an annual review.”
Additionally, Accord wants to see more members benefit from the improved travel agreement. Currently these benefits only apply to members affected by branch closures, but the end goal is to see it rolled out as a universal policy so that colleagues redeployed for any reason will have their travel costs met.
Travel Costs and Universal Credit
For some members who receive Universal Credit or other benefits, the improved travel costs policy could trigger a cut to their benefits payments. This is because of government policy which means that as you earn more, the amount you can claim in benefits is reduced. Accord believes that in its current form this policy unfairly penalises working people and we will continue to challenge it at a national level, through the TUC.
The settlement of pay disputes in the public sector included a non-consolidated cost-of-living award of £1,500 for some civil servants. The Public Commercial & Services union (PCS) has pointed out that some of its members who not only work for the Department of Work & Pensions to administer Universal Credit but are also benefit claimants actually benefit least from the payments due to UC rules. The PCS is trying to find ways to ensure that its members on UC get the same support as everybody else. We support them in this endeavour and will seek the same treatment for members in LBG & TSB if progress is made.