PR Team: In-house
Campaign: 'Refer the bid' - to stop Lloyds TSB's planned takeover of
Timescale: 5-19 January
When Lloyds TSB launched a hostile bid for the Abbey National, it was
feared that as many as 20,000 jobs could be axed and 720 branches could
close if the bid succeeded.
Finance union UNIFI believed that if the bid was not referred to the
Competition Commission (CC), then the cuts would be inevitable.
Lloyds TSB confirmed its intention to bid for Abbey National on 5
January and submissions had to be made to the Office of Fair Trading by
19 January. The OFT then had until 2 February to make a recommendation
to Stephen Byers, the then Secretary of State for Trade and
UNIFI had contacts in both camps but was not on good terms with Abbey
National sister union, ANSA. More seriously, it was also waging a
recruitment war with Lloyds TSB in-house union LTU.
To seek a coalition of pressure groups to fight the bid, while pursuing
a political and media agenda to reinforce the benefits of a referral to
Strategy and Plan
To forge its coalition, UNIFI approached the Consumers' Association, the
Federation of Small Businesses, the Campaign for Community Banking, ANSA
and LTU. Only LTU turned it down.
Separate submissions were made to the OFT, but these were dovetailed to
ensure consistency of message. A press campaign was launched against
City analysts, who were convinced that a referral would not be
UNIFI representatives met Martin Salter MP, chair of the All-Party
Banking Group, and he agreed that an Early Day Motion should be tabled,
and that an emergency meeting of the all-party group be convened.
UNIFI wrote to every MP and encouraged ANSA members to write to their
MPs asking them to sign the Early Day Motion.
UNIFI also highlighted the fact that combined jobs losses at steelmaker
Corus and carmaker Vauxhall, both of which have controversially closed
plants in recent months, were not as high as the massive job cull
planned by Lloyds TSB. UNIFI pointed out that, relative to the uproar
which greeted Corus and Vauxhall's culls, the reaction to Lloyds' plans
was small because the jobs were service and principally finance sector
white-collar jobs, done mainly by women on a part-time basis.
On the last day for submissions to the OFT, UNIFI set up breakfast show
radio interviews and commissioned an 'advan' to drive round the City,
and park outside the OFT, Lloyds TSB and Abbey offices.
Measurement and Evaluation
According to UNIFI communications director Dai Davies, the only way that
the union would evaluate the campaign was in terms of quantifiable
'The bottom line was to try to save 9,000 jobs and to bring some
publicity to the carnage that is going on in the financial sector,' he
The All-Party Banking Group met and heard UNIFI's evidence, which
resulted in a deputation being sent to OFT director John Vickers, and to
Stephen Byers, to persuade them to refer the bid.
The OFT referred the bid to the CC and, on 10 July, the Trade Secretary
Patricia Hewitt confirmed that the bid would not be allowed to
The drive picked up the Campaign of the Year award at the TUC Press and