Inside the banking system

Wendy Thomas

I work for a bank. Well not a bank, a building society. Actually I don’t work for them. I’m a contractor in an admin production line, and technically employed by a resourcing company.

In other words, I have no rights. No sick pay, no holiday pay, and every month I must pay £65 to an umbrella company for the privilege of being paid my wages.

There’s no job security when even a six-month contract isn’t worth the paper it’s written on. There’s no barrier to instant dismissal if you don’t hit the targets, especially when there’s an unending queue of graduates desperate for a job.

I’ve seen 17 people humiliatingly escorted from the premises since I began a year ago.

Before this I was working three part-time jobs – in a bar until 5am, admin temping and as a teaching assistant in special needs schools – so you can imagine my relief at finding a nine to five job.

Except it’s not. I pay a further £100 a month for a daily four hour bus journey but I have little choice – there are simply no jobs where I live.

At my desk, every aspect of my work is under constant scrutiny. Spread-sheet after spread-sheet detail my quality, productivity and efficiency in traffic-light colours.

Hitting the targets is difficult, and many work obscene hours to achieve it. Now we are being monitored for amount produced in relation to time worked, so even those working gruelling hours to complete an unrealistic goal are punished.

The culture of contracting is used to undercut and pressurise permanent staff, causing an atmosphere of hostility between workers.

At work, I speak to customers, often in dire financial situations, who are trying to claim back insurance they couldn’t afford but were bullied into taking.

I know I am prevented from helping them. The worse their circumstances the more they’re told they needed insurance in the first place. It is essentially a charge for being poor.

I am often asked if I am not a hypocrite for being a socialist and working in the financial sector, but under capitalism only the rich can afford to turn down a job.

I’m a bank worker not a banker, and I see directly how impossible a financial system run for profit really is.

What we need is the nationalisation of all financial institutions under democratic control and to call for this using a one-day general strike to involve all workers – across public and private sectors, whether full-time, part-time or contracted. And when it’s called, I may not be getting paid but I damn well won’t be working!