British bank Lloyds cuts 4,500 jobs

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Britain's state-rescued Lloyds Banking Group said Wednesday that it will axe another 4,500 jobs, including 1,750 posts abroad, as the crisis-hit lender continues its painful restructuring.

"The group will be reducing the number of roles in group IT and operations by 2012," said a statement from LBG, which is 41-percent owned by the government after a massive bailout at the height of the financial crisis.

"In total, 1,600 permanent roles will be affected across the UK. The group is also continuing to reduce its use of temporary and contractor staff.

"It will therefore be releasing 1,150 temporary and contractor roles in the UK and a further 1,750 offshore contractor roles," it added.

The news sparked deep anger from trade union Unite, which said that Lloyds has now axed more than 20,000 jobs since the start of 2009.

Lloyds was ravaged by its 2008 government-brokered takeover of Halifax Bank of Scotland (HBOS), which was saddled with high-risk investments in the property sector. The group was subsequently bailed out by the taxpayer.

The bank said Wednesday that it has made good progress on a three-year "integration programme" that will be completed by the end of 2011.

"It is an absolute disgrace that Lloyds Banking Group which is being kept alive by the taxpayer is cutting more jobs and moving their jobs out of the UK," said Unite national officer Cath Speight.

"It is now time for the government step in and demand answers on behalf of taxpayers and staff."

She added: "Since the taxpayer stepped in to keep this bank afloat the management have shown no acknowledgement for the dedication of their staff who have ensured it can continue to service their customers, instead rewarding them with over 20,000 job cuts."

LBG, created in January 2009 when Lloyds TSB bought rival HBOS, suffered enormous losses in 2008 and 2009, as bad debts rocketed amid a deep recession that ended only late last year.

However, Lloyds bounced back into profit in the first half of 2010, as bad debts fell sharply despite challenging economic conditions.

"Today marks another major step in bringing our businesses together," said Mark Fisher, LBG director of group operations, in the statement on Wednesday.

"The changes we are putting in place will give us a world-class IT operation that will benefit our customers and all our other stakeholders.

"We will work closely with the colleagues affected by today's announcement to help them through these changes. We have mitigated the impact on permanent staff with a significant release of temporary and contract staff."

© 2010 AFP

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