Since the beginning of the pandemic, Spanish banks have agreed to workforce adjustments that affect more than 15,000 jobs , either through incentivized exits or early retirement.
In a context of low profitability due to the negative interest rate environment, the sector has undergone various employment adjustments in recent years, sometimes derived from mergers between entities, or to adjust an oversized network and gain efficiency.
Rethink the business model
The pressure on the margins of the banking entities was exacerbated by the irruption of the coronavirus pandemic in Spain in March 2020, which has also accelerated trends such as digitization, which has led the supervisory authorities to insist that the entities they must rethink their business model to reduce costs and adapt to new consumer habits .
This has intensified the trend of reducing offices and investing in digital channels , a redistribution of networks that has usually been accompanied by job cuts.
CaixaBank and BBVA, the most recent
Since the coronavirus crisis erupted in Spain in mid-March 2020, various banking entities have agreed with workers’ representatives to adjust workforce processes that add up to more than 15,500 job terminations , either through incentivized exits or early retirement .
The last and largest of them all was the one signed this Thursday between CaixaBank and the unions for the integration of Bankia, which will involve 6,452 voluntary departures , 14.5% of the bank’s workforce, a plan that includes early retirements from the age of 52 and that from CCOO they assure that it is “the best ERE of the moment” in the financial sector.
Just a month ago, BBVA and the workers’ representatives closed another ERE to amortize 2,725 jobs , to which are added 210 incentivized leaves of absence. The agreement allows early retirement from the age of 50 and more than 4,000 employees have already signed up for an adhesion process that has not ended.
The rest of the entities add more than 6,000 extinctions
For its part, Banco Santander agreed in December an ERE to pre-retire from the age of 50 to 3,572 workers . The latest data from the monitoring commission indicates that 93% of the departures have already been executed.
Banco Sabadell did not carry out an ERE, but a voluntary early retirement plan for 1,800 employees . Said program was agreed with the unions in December 2020 and was fully executed at the end of March.
It is not ruled out that the entity makes an employment adjustment in the future, as the new strategic plan, presented last May, contemplates a cost reduction of 100 million euros in all ways, including personnel restructuring. The cost reduction will begin to be implemented, at the latest, in the first half of 2022.
Likewise, at the end of last year Ibercaja Banco announced an employment adjustment, which in this case means the departure of 750 workers and which the entity plans to complete in June 2022.
Abanca also agreed with the unions 190 early retirements for the integration of Banco Caixa Geral. In this case, the adjustment was announced before Covid-19, at the end of February 2020, although the agreement was reached in mid-April, in a state of alarm. The bank chaired by Juan Carlos Escotet has also acquired Bankoa and Novo Banco, although no further adjustments are foreseen for the moment.
In this scenario, the employment adjustment that will take place in Unicaja Banco after the absorption of Liberbank is pending negotiation, an operation that has just received a ‘green light’ from the National Markets and Competition Commission (CNMC) and that should be completed in the next few weeks.
It will be after receiving the regulatory authorizations when the group is in a position to explain in detail the final impacts of the operation, negotiating the possible measures that affect the workforce with the workers’ representatives. The president of Unicaja Banco, Manuel Azuaga, has reiterated on several occasions that the measures that may affect the workforce due to the merger will be analyzed rigorously and with the greatest possible agreement between the parties.
On its side, Bankinter remains on the sidelines of mergers and its financial director ruled out last April that the bank was going to cut its staff “in the present or in the future” .
All the aforementioned adjustments show a combined figure of 15,509 extinctions, which amount to 15,700 if Abanca’s early retirement plan is taken into account, according to data collected by Europa Press.