Locked-out UBS traders head to the pub

LONDON Tue Oct 30, 2012 6:04pm GMT

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LONDON (Reuters) - Dozens of UBS traders spent their day in the pub rather than at the Swiss bank's London headquarters after they found out that their security passes no longer worked.

The traders - many of them from the bank's fixed income department - soon discovered they had been put on two weeks special leave as part of UBS's plans to cut 10,000 staff in a retreat from fixed income.

As more turned up for work queues began to form at the bank's doors until some took refuge instead in the Railway Tavern pub nearby.

"I came into the office at twenty to seven, my pass didn't work so a beefy bouncer took me to the lift, where a different beefy bouncer was waiting for me," said one trader in the Railway Tavern, next to Liverpool Street station in the heart of the City of London financial district.

"I came straight here. Well not straight here because it only opened at 8am - I went ... for a coffee and breakfast (first)," he said.

Inside the pub, more than 20 UBS traders stood around drinking pints of lager and cheered as more arrived.

They said they had been given letters putting them on paid leave until further notice. But the traders have not been formally let go or even officially put at risk of redundancy.

The letters mark the start of a consultation over jobs at UBS related to its restructuring in fixed income.

UBS declined to comment.

A security pass that no longer works is often the first sign for a banker that all may not be well with his job. Investment banks do this to try to stop sensitive data leaving along with staff.

The UBS traders turned away on Tuesday were either handed their belongings in plastic bags, or had to call colleagues inside the bank to bring down their possessions.

Those affected came from a range of teams, they said.

"It was like salami slicing," said one young trader.

Some said they were shocked by the scale of UBS's cuts, saying they had not believed 10,000 jobs would go.

"And now I'm here," said a third trader, as he left the Railway Tavern pub for lunch with colleagues.

Most were still wearing their work suits, though one had changed into jeans and a T-shirt and returned to spend the day with colleagues.

Some were philosophical about the cuts.

"It's the right decision, even though it's horrible for me," another trader said. "The City (of London) is changing -- and this is part of that."

"I don't know what I'm going to do ... we'll see."

(Editing by Sarah White. Editing by Jane Merriman)

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