Accord (trade union)

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Accord
ACCORD logo.png
Full name Accord
Founded 1978
Members 19,000
Affiliation TUC, STUC, ICTU, Alliance for Finance
Key people Ged Nichols, general secretary
Office location Charvil, Berkshire, England
Country United Kingdom
Website www.accord-myunion.org

Accord is an independent trade union, affiliated to the TUC and the Scottish TUC. Accord is a specialist union for staff in financial services with members in the Lloyds Banking Group, TSB, Equitable Life and Sainsbury's Bank. It has around 19,000 members.

Accord can trace its origins back to 1978, when it was founded as the Halifax Building Society Staff Association (HBSSA). The HBSSA was founded by John Simmons, the then manager of the Halifax branch in Plymouth. He had concluded that staff within the Halifax Building Society were in need of trade union representation, and had begun organising in earnest in 1977. Simmons was keen to avoid the use of the word "union" because of the negative connotations associated with militant trade unions in the UK in the 1970s. Accord's headquarters, Simmons House, is named after John Simmons.

In 1978 Ernie Roberts was appointed as the first General Secretary. Branch reps were elected and Regional Committees established. From these groups a National Committee was elected, which met for the first time in August 1978. The HBSSA was formed. By the end of 1978 the HBSSA was recognised by the then Halifax Building Society "as the sole bargaining agent for its members below Executive and Regional Manager level".

In January 1979 the HBSSA was granted its Certificate of Independence. This meant that it was recognised by the Government as a bona fide trades union and was afforded the rights to which it was entitled. In 1980 the HBSSA held its first conference in Manchester. In 1983 Ernie Roberts retired, allowing David Nash to become the second General Secretary. Bill Wright was appointed Assistant General Secretary.

At the 1994 Conference delegates voted to rename the HBSSA the Independent Union of Halifax Staff (IUHS). In 1995 the Halifax Building Society merged with the Leeds Permanent Building Society. The following year the Leeds Staff Association joined the IUHS. Also in 1996, The Halifax acquired the Clerical Medical Investment Group and in 1999 announced its merger with the Bank of Scotland. The union was therefore renamed again by delegates at the 2002 conference to reflect the diversity of its membership. From this point onwards it was known as Accord.

Controversies[edit]

Alignment with the TUC

Despite its recognition and affiliation as an independent trade union with the TUC on 1979, the HBSSA (a previous incarnation of Accord) was still subject to much derision from established trade unions based on its stated intent to distance itself from Trade unions of the time.

Accord has faced criticism from other TUC affiliated unions for its indifferent stance towards retaining the NHS, This criticism is mostly in connection with its support for Private health cover within Lloyds and it's 'excess payment cover' designed to increase usage of the Private health care cover provided by Lloyds for all colleagues.

Perception of independence

As the IUHS (a previous name of Accord) The organisation faced calls for significant change as they were viewed as 'in cahoots with management' 'too closely associated with Halifax' and 'were not a proper Union'. These calls prompted in part the need for IUHS to be recognised as an independent Trade Union, which it achieved in 1996.

After the formation of HBOS, Unite Representatives were of the belief that Accord were 'too close to the employer, lacked democratic structure and accountability and lacked any history of industrial action.

These concerns continued with the merger of Lloyds Banking Group and Halifax Bank of Scotland, LBG were looking to harmonise contracts and Terms in areas such as Pay, working hours and worker mobility. BTU fiercely rejected these changes and accused Accord the Union of facilitating staff disadvantage by ' encouraging' LBG staff to sign new detrimental Terms.

In an ensuing court action, brought by BTU and members citing discrimination in the treatment of 'non signers' Ged Nichols (Accord General Secretary) supported Lloyds Banking Group by appearing as a supporting witness against the allegations levelled against LBG. Lloyds Banking Group went on to lose the case and BTU heavily publicised alleged collusion between Accord, Nichols and LBG.

Inter Union Disagreements

Upon the merger of the Halifax Bank of Scotland Group and Lloyds Banking Group in 2008, the combined group now had three recognised unions to consult and negotiate with, Affinity (known as LTU, Now known as BTU) Unite the Union and Accord the Union

After 7 Turmoiloutous years of poor Union relations between BTU and Accord and Unite, In 2015 Lloyds Banking Group chose to 'Derecognise BTU' and recognise Unite and Accord for the purposes of collective bargaining.

In subsequent years, there has been a significant effort from BTU to publish newsletters and journals relevant to there view of Accord's independence, strength and competency, even going as far as attacking Accord's General Secretary by name, mainly in connection with the BTU 'non signers' court case

Alleged Misuse of Member Funds

Accusations have been levelled against Accord and it's executive of misusing member funds in respect of the salary and benefit package afforded to its current General Secretary, Ged Nichols who (according Accord accounts) is paid a total remuneration package of £139,346 making Nichols the 11th highest paid General Secretary in the UK, ahead of larger unions such as Progress, Fire Brigades Union, Unite & Unison

In 2017, Accusations surfaced that Accord had spent over £101,000 on its biennial conference in 2016, hosted at the Europa Hotel, Belfast with some members commenting that the spend of over £100k on such a lavish event was equivalent to nearly a 800 full time members annual subscriptions.

General Secretaries[edit]

1978: Ernie Roberts
1983: David Nash
1993 to Current: Ged Nichols

References[edit]

Professor Gregor Gall - Labour Unionism in the Financial Services Sector, Fighting for Rights and Representation - Ashgate Publishing

External links[edit]