Santander ‘final’ pay offer out to ballot – with strong vote ‘YES’ recommendation – alongside improvements to pensions.

Telecoms & Financial Services, Santander

Members across Santander UK are being urged to accept a wide-ranging one year pay deal that has been negotiated by the CWU to help minimise the impact of the worst cost of living crisis for a generation.

The Bank’s final offer – which emerged during intensive talks just before Christmas and is now subject to a consultative ballot which will commence tomorrow (Friday January 6) – delivers a minimum pay award of the greater of 6% or £2,000 (pro-rata for part timers) for all S1-5 grade employees, including those who were formerly in Santander Technology.

For the majority of members that increase is fully consolidated – though for those already earning above the maximum of their pay range the award will either be unconsolidated or split into consolidated and non-consolidated elements as appropriate, unless special ‘protected arrangements’ apply.

Taken in conjunction with a new minimum entry level (S1:P1) salary of £21,200 – an uplift of 8.7% on the current £19,500 – and 5% minimum increases in S1 and S2 pay range midpoints, most of those in the two most populous CWU-represented grades will received fully consolidated rises of 8%.

But, in line with the union’s objective of securing a further ‘cost of living’ payment for all members, the deal additionally includes an unconsolidated lump sum of £400 that will be paid in February to all CWU-represented grades. Not pro-rated, it will be paid in full to part-timers, regardless of the number of hours they work.

Taking into account both elements, S1 and S2 grade employees – who account for a significant majority of the union’s membership in Santander – are in line to receive overall average pay increases for 2023 totalling 10.6% and 8.5% respectively.

The proposed settlement maintains a pay progression scheme previously negotiated by the union for S1 and S2 grade employees in Santander UK that is unique in the banking industry.

And, in a sector where performance-related rises are the norm, the headline pay deal is importantly not performance-related – applying to everyone apart from those with a 2022 performance rating of ‘Not Achieved’. The CWU successfully argued, however, that those individuals will still qualify for the £400 cost of living payment.

Other highlights of the deal – which is set out in detail in Santander Members’ Bulletin No. 01/2023 include:

  • An increase in fully paid Maternity Leave from 23 to 26 weeks – building on the improvement agreed by the Bank last year which saw the entitlement extended from 20 to 23 weeks.
  • The same increase applying to Adoption Leave and Shared Parental Leave, also coming into effect on April 1, 2023.
  • An increase in paid Bereavement Leave, from ‘up to 5 days’ to ‘up to 10 days’, again from April 1.

Improvements to Pensions

Although sitting outside the scope of the pay deal (and ballot), the CWU was also consulted on significant improvements to the Santander defined contribution pension scheme.  These include increasing the minimum employer contribution to 8%, which can be obtained with a minimum of 0% member contribution.  This means that, at the entry level, the question of saving for the future no longer becomes a matter of affordability and circumstance.

In addition, the removal of service related increments mean over 8,000 members will jump to the maximum employer contribution for their applicable rate, and changes will also be made to allow employer contributions to be taken as cash on a short term trial basis over two years.

CWU Telecoms & Financial Services (TFS) Executive member and Santander National Committee chair, Gordon Johnston – who led the union’s team in intensive talks with the company – told CWU News: “The view of the Santander National Committee is that this is a very strong final offer which helps members deal with the immediate impact of the cost of living crisis and compares very favourably against other pay deals in the sector. It’s certainly the best that can be achieved by negotiation.

“I cannot overstate the importance the CWU places on the DC pension improvements – because the key point is that Santander will be paying company contributions totalling a minimum of 8% of salary for everybody – even if individuals chose not to pay anything at all in themselves.

“This is particularly important in a deepening current cost of living crisis, because even now we know that there are 500 Santander employees out there who have chosen not to join at the current 3% entry level.”

Santander National Committee vice chair and Bootle Financial Services Branch secretary Tracey Griffiths agrees: “Pension improvements aside, with all the forecasts indicating that inflation will fall consistently from late spring/ early summer onwards, the National Committee firmly believes that the deal on the table meets our objective of securing a meaningful pay rise for all our members in Santander, and at a time when they need it the most,” she stresses.

“As such we wholeheartedly commend the deal to members and urge them to vote ‘YES’ in the forthcoming ballot.”