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September is hot in the banks with haircuts and strikes

September is hot in the banks with haircuts and strikes

More than 650 bank employees have rejected proposals to leave Santander and BCP. Unions vow to do everything to stop mass layoffs.

No decisions have been made yet, but workers and unions are ready to increase pressure on banks that have ongoing staff layoffs. “It is expected that the end of the summer will be very hot for bank employees,” assures Mario Mourao, president of SBN – the union of workers in the financial sector in Portugal. “It is possible that unions will end up radicalizing their actions. If the banks insist on mass layoffs, a strike in the sector will not be ruled out,” he adds.

Behind the competition is one of the biggest iterations in banking in memory. In the second half of this year alone, up to 2,000 bank employees may leave the sector, and nearly 1,600 of them will be laid off from Millennium PCB and Santander.

In recent days, the situation has developed in the two large banks with the largest staff cuts. Once the deadlines for employees to respond to exit proposals from Santander and BCP expire, there is already some clarity about what will follow at each of the banks. In Santander’s case, the bank announced that it would start laying off 350 people who had rejected proposals to leave voluntarily. At BCP there is no official data yet, but according to what JN/DV has found, about 300 workers will reject the exit proposals submitted. The BCP had already considered the possibility of moving towards the mass dismissal of those who refused to leave under the restructuring plan.

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Strikes are in preparation

The announcement of the strikes by the bank unions may come next week. But for now, they are still not confirming what the next acts of protest will be.

“The unions will not remain indifferent to what is happening. September will undoubtedly be hot,” assures Paulo Marcos, President of SNQTB – the National Union of Technical Employees of Banks. “We can guarantee that this is not over yet,” he confirmed in remarks to JN/DV.

Using all possible resources, after the first protest action that brought together all the unions in the sector for the first time, in July, Paulo Marcos and Manuel López, of União dos Sindicatos Independentes, were received, last Friday, at a meeting with the President of the Republic, Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa.

“We made it clear to the president that the layoffs that are taking place lack economic rationality. We are talking about companies with foreign shareholders, very profitable, and forcing layoffs,” says Paulo Marcos. It highlights that “large, systemic companies laying off jobs – such as Altice, Santander and BCP – belong to sectors that have not been affected by the crisis” caused by the pandemic.

From the audience with Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, union members brought hope that the attorney general would accept concerns about the large ongoing dismissals. The SNQTB Chairman asserts that “the political issue is still making its way”.

However, unions are vowing not to wait for the government or the Assembly of the Republic to be bailed out and are preparing to roll up their sleeves. Strikes, protests and challenges are on the table. SBN’s Mario Mourao confirms: “Next week, we will hold meetings to review the situation. We will not accept collective dismissals.”

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With justice delayed to rule out recourse to litigation, bankers threaten to use other weapons. Including the strike.

Annoyance and pressure

Unions and labor committees accused banks of putting pressure on workers and resorting to harassment to get them to accept proposals to leave the institutions. Bankers deny the allegations.

A refused to go out

The bank, led by Pedro Castro and Almeida, will cut 350 seats from the more than 700 who rejected offers to leave. In Miguel Maya BCB, it would be 300 said no.