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  • Writer's picturePeter Smith

THURSDAY 18TH NOVEMBER 1999 - Low Morale & "Team Talk"

Ron Sandler calls a meeting for senior people to discuss "low morale". I can't really see that it needs a high-powered get together to explain why people feel a bit low at the moment. Some fairly strange discussions ensue.

"Why can't we categorically state that we will stay independent come what may?" asks one of our senior Head Office directors, who really should understand better the realities of capitalism and shareholder value. Ron explains how the stock market actually works with more patience than I would muster. Then Chris Wathen, the HR director, raises the issue of Team Talk, the Retail Bank Intranet chat site. Is it a help or a hindrance in terms of morale? Ron has clearly never heard of it, let alone seen it, so Chris explains.

"So what sort of topic is on there?" asks Ron.

I haven't said anything up to now, but I can't resist chipping in. I feel I should tell him that at 10'o'clock this morning there were over 200 messages on Team Talk under the discussion heading of "Ron's salary!"

He looks slightly shocked, but it's true. Since the details were made public in the defence document, there has been a fairly frank debate about the size of his salary, bonus, share options, etc compared with redundancies and general misery among the troops. He is on £450,000 a year, with a bonus of up to 100%, and £112,500 guaranteed for next March. He has a 12-month contract (which is standard for executives down to my level). Apparently, he was originally coming for £400K to work for Derek, and then this was increased with Derek going and Ron taking over the bigger role. This has caused some comment as the staff in general have been told there are no promotion-linked pay rises till March, while Ron seems to have got another £50K for his "promotion" even before he formally started!

Anyway, although he doesn't say too much today, from Ron's demeanour as we discuss Team Talk, I suspect the editing will now become quite a lot more draconian!

More discussions about the Cheadle warehouse closure. We are closing down the envelope production unit at the end of November, then the rest of the operation at the end of the year. It looks like most of the envelope staff (excepting the retirees) have already found jobs. That is good news; as most of them have long service with NatWest, they will be getting a decent pay-off and be able to start earning again immediately.

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