(Updates sourcing, adds quote from union)
LONDON, March 24 (Reuters) - Lloyds Banking Group has halted plans to cut around 780 jobs and suspended all union negotiations for fresh layoffs in view of the unfolding coronavirus pandemic, employee union Accord said on Tuesday.
The cuts were originally announced in February as part of a cost-cutting drive at the lender, which has been working to shrink its branch network to reflect what it sees as an increase in the popularity of mobile or digital banking.
“This is a good move by Lloyds to suspend the programme of redundancies,” Ged Nichols, general secretary of Accord told Reuters.
“The cuts were planned in view of forecasts of over-capacity across LLoyds branch network which, given current circumstances, do not seem to hold up anymore.”
Earlier on Tuesday, the Bank of England told banks and building societies to keep branches open wherever possible after the government ordered the shutdown of almost all non-essential businesses open to the public.
Nichols also said the bank, Britain’s largest domestic lender, had suspended all talks with employee unions about future restructuring and organisational changes it had intended to make in the medium term.
“They haven’t consulted us on these yet so we can’t put any numbers behind it but there have been significant job reductions at Lloyds every year since 2009,” Nichols said.
“In times like these, it’s a very small silver lining for staff but it is something. There will be more people in work than might otherwise have been.”
The Guardian newspaper first reported the news on Tuesday.
Lloyds did not immediately respond to a request for comment. (Reporting By Lawrence White and Sinead Cruise, Editing by Edmund Blair and Kirstin Ridley)