BCP, Santander workers to strike against redundancy plans on October 1

  • Lusa
  • 17 September 2021

Employees of BCP and Santander Totta are to strike on October 1 against plans for mass redundancies at the two institutions.

Employees of BCP and Santander Totta, two of Portugal’s largest non-state banks, are to strike on October 1 against plans for mass redundancies at the two institutions, according to a joint statement from six unions.

After a meeting on Thursday with the board of Santander Totta, in which the bank was “unyielding” on its plans to dismiss 210 employees, according to the unions Mais Sindicato, SBN – Sindicato dos Trabalhadores do Setor Financeiro and Sindicato dos Bancários do Centro (both affiliated to the UGT federation), Sintaf (linked to the CGTP federation), and Sindicato Nacional dos Quadros e Técnicos Bancários and Sindicato Independente da Banca (both independent) – they said that they had decided to go ahead with a strike, which is also to cover BCP.

The same statement indicated that “faced with the position taken today by the management of Banco Santander Totta (BST) in relation to collective dismissal, in all similar to that of BCP, the six bank staff unions have decided to call a simultaneous strike in the two banks.”

The strike is also being supported by the STEC – Trade Union of Workers of CGD group companies – the state-owned savings bank Caixa Geral de Depósitos – according to the unions involved.

“From now on the law establishes that it is the [banks’] Works Councils that have the legal competence to participate in the current phase of the process, and all questions should be addressed to them,” the statement reads, referring to the statutory panels at each bank.

Even so, “the unions are prepared to intervene, as soon as and if the process moves forward,” it adds, saying that “members should send their respective legal services all forms … so that they can be provided with the essential elements for full knowledge of the process.

“These unions call on all workers of [Santander and BCP] to participate in the strike that will take place in the respective institution,” the statement say. “This is a cause that concerns all bank employees. It does not affect just some of us.

“The time has come for bank employees to make their voices heard in the uncompromising defence of their rights and their jobs,” the text concludes.

Santander Totta plans to make 685 workers redundant. An official source told Lusa last week that more than 400 have already agreed to leave via early retirements or voluntary redundancy, and that there were 230 employees with whom no agreement had been reached and who may therefore be covered by dismissal, but that the number was not definitive as the process has not yet closed.

BCP announced last week that it would make 62 workers redundant, in a message from its CEO to employees that Lusa has seen. In the meantime, it has reached an agreement with around 700 workers on voluntary redundancy, early retirement and pre-retirement.

The unions accuse the banks of intimidating and blackmailing workers, effectively forcing them to accept redundancy – which means they will not have access to unemployment benefits) – or early retirement, at a time when they are making significant profits.

BCP had a first-half profit of €12.3 million, down 84% on the same period in 2020, while Santander Totta made €81.4 million, down 52.9% on the year.