This is a guest post by a Northern Rock employee who would like to remain anonymous.
Newspapers adore reporting on a failure. In a week where the main stories include BP failing to plug a leak in the middle of the ocean the size of Luxembourg, a taxi driver goes postal and assassinating 12 bystanders and a fox mauling two children, reporting the news has become less about the facts and more about stating how wrong everything is. In shorts, the news has turned into one of those macro-based websites which post a picture of a misfortune and stamp the word "FAIL" on it in 15-foot high lettering. Even David Cameron who has suggested that the government will be making severe cuts in the budget has been reported as a fail, because for some reason newspapers live in a world where everything is free and money should be handed out on the street corner like candy floss at a funfair.
A popular story reported on this week may have been forgotten about in this world of fox attacks and faux taxes. Nevertheless, it still made a few of the front pages in an eerie copy of what occurred three years ago. The story involves everybody's favourite British fail: Northern Rock.
Now, before I continue, I must warn you that I am employed by Northern Rock. Not in the sense that I have any sort of real power, oh no. I am quite a low-level member of staff. I'm not licensed to have any sort of real power, and my job is essentially one level higher than that of the cleaners or the coffee shop workers. Still, I do work at Head Office and I do deal with clients' accounts. I am briefed about the week's events via various meetings and emails. I know in advance how the bank is doing; which makes it even more hilarious when I see how the world of the printed media reports on the news a week later.
Back in 2007, newspapers were very quick to jump on the bandwagon that Northern Rock were "unsafe" and That was a horrid day at work as a number of customers were frightened. They had read that they were going to lose all their money. Untrue. The media kept reporting on it, scaring more people. "WITHDRAW YOUR MONEY" yelled The Daily Mail. "NORTHERN ROCK ARE UNSAFE!" remarked The Sun. This then sparked off a reaction where people were queueing outside Northern Rock cash machines to draw money out of their current accounts - even if they had £50 left in them. These photos were golden. The media had shocked the majority of our customers into forming long queues at the cash points just so they could take photos of the long queues at the cash points to validate their point. It was an extremely bizarre turn of events. It was similar to someone pointing to an old barnyard and labelling it as unsafe, and then burning it down to prove their point.
Despite this incident, we have clambered slowly but surely to our feet. We were helped out by the government to guarantee all funds 100%. We started getting investors again, and eventually came a more respectable business. At one point, there was discussion about splitting Northern Rock into two; one side dealing with investment accounts, and the other side dealing with mortgages. This made sense, as we could invest more money into the savings side and help out more with our customers. How did the papers report this? "NORTHERN ROCK TO SPLIT INTO GOOD BANK/BAD BANK". I was shocked and confused about what that even meant. We had a lot of confused customers asking which bank they'd end up in. If I was an investor, I'd be bloody confused as well. "Bad bank" indeed. What the hell does that even mean?
Still, we clambered along. Despite all the negative press, people still believed in us. We may have looked like the Black Knight from Monty Python, limblessly crawling on the ground and convincing people that we were all right, but we were all right, dammit! Eventually, we had climbed back so far that we were able to release the 100% government guarantee. This essentially meant that we could start becoming in the same vein as all other banks, and hopefully make a return to the private sector. How did the papers report this? "GOVERNMENT TO ABANDON NORTHERN ROCK". Oh for fu-...
Then comes this month. June 2010. We are put into groups and briefed about what is occurring. Due to all the upset of the last three years, we simply don't have enough clients any more. We used to be a proud, private bank. Despite all our attempts at climbing to the top, we simply don't have enough investors as we used to. They've all been scared off. People in a department called The Review Team don't have anything to Review. All in all, jobs will have to go. But, in order to maintain a drop of dignity, the company are urging anyone who wishes to go for voluntary redundancy to do so. This essentially means that the level of employees can be cut, but in a dignified way. No forcing people out of jobs. No bad blood at all. Again, I reiterate, the reason why this is done is because we're not having the business that we once did. The other alternative would be keeping people on the payroll to do, well, nothing. I could be one of the people who lose their jobs. I am aware of it, but I've been with the company long enough now to understand why. I am a mature individual with a family to support, but even I understand why the business need to do this. To stay in business. This is why it irks me so much when I see this story reported in the Daily Fucking Telegraph as..
"RESCUED" BANK TO PAY OFF 650 EMPLOYEES
Pay off?! Thanks for making a once great institute sound like a rent boy working for the mafia.
I fucking hate the media. I truly do.