PART-NATIONALISED Royal Bank of Scotland is paying temporary staff up to £2000 a day despite laying off thousands of its own workforce.
Labour politicians and union leaders expressed astonishment at the pay rates – equivalent to more than £500,000 a year – and accused RBS of throwing money at outside contractors.
Edinburgh-based RBS is still 83 per cent owned by the taxpayer after being bailed out by the UK Government at the height of the banking crisis.
It recently set out plans to cut 2000 staff jobs over the next 18 months.
The amount of cash being paid to contract staff came to light in an e-mail sent out by an employee of the Hays recruitment agency, revealing the pay rates of more than 3000 temporary workers at RBS.
Senior management at the bank were said to be furious that contractors’ names and billing rates were mistakenly included in a routine e-mail sent by Hays to 800 recipients at RBS.
The message was supposed to be a reminder that managers needed to complete a timesheet before the Bank Holiday weekend, but a Hays staff member was said to have inadvertently attached the wrong document.
In a statement, RBS said: “We are extremely disappointed that confidential personnel data has been shared by one of our suppliers. This is unacceptable and we are taking action to address this issue.”
But the bank made no comment on the pay rates for its temporary staff.
Insiders at RBS said the bank was using more contractors than usual as it winds down toxic loans and prepares non-core businesses for sale.
The contractors on the highest rates are understood to be those with specialist accounting, financial and IT expertise.
David Fleming, national officer for the Unite union, said RBS was using contractors as “short-term fixes” rather than investing in the skills of permanent staff.
He said: “It is wholly inappropriate that RBS appears to be throwing money at thousands of contractors.”
Labour shadow treasury minister Chris Leslie said: “Many long-standing bank employees will be nonplussed at the large number of consultants at RBS because, while they are expensive on a daily basis, they are clearly substitutes for full-time employees.”
Hays said it had apologised to RBS and launched an internal investigation.
“We are taking the unauthorised release of this data extremely seriously,” it said.