The unions in the Financial Sector (Mais) and the Central Bank (SBC) denounced this Thursday that “many” workers at Banco Santander are being contacted to leave by mutual agreement. THE Observer found that the bank recently hired the same advisor who helped BCP in deep restructuring that the bank did between 2012 and 2015. Contacted by the Observer, the bank’s official source ensures that there is no change in strategy and that there is no specific plan to reduce staff.
According to what the Observer found, Santander hired the external advisory services of the CMS Rui Pena & Arnaut (and Labor Law partner Susana Afonso, the same lawyer who led the team that was at Millennium BCP). BCP entered in 2012 with almost 10,000 workers in Portugal (9,959 in December 2011, according to official information) and in 2016 it had already reduced to 7,333 – a reduction explained by the European demand for a 25% reduction in personnel costs, within the scope of the state loan that BCP had to borrow in 2012 (along with others such as Caixa Geral de Depósitos and BPI).
Despite this contract, Banco Santander officially guarantees that “bank’s performance has not changed“, When it comes to personnel reduction plans. Santander, which absorbed Banif and Banco Popular staff, reduced the number of employees in 249 in 2019, to 6,188, according to what appears in the report and accounts released in January 2020. Also, 30 branches were closed in 2019.
The policy that has been followed and that we continue to implement is that the withdrawals are made by agreement between the bank and each worker. We do not anticipate that the average number of employees who will leave by agreement, retirement and pre-retirement will change during the current year. Santander is, as hitherto, committed to ensuring the proper protection of people, namely maintaining benefits and ensuring support for reintegration into the labor market. However, never in recent years has Santander hired as many new employees as in 2020. ”
Several banks are cutting staff due to the impact of interest rates on historic lows, the challenges of digitization and, now, the economic crisis caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. The most recent example is that of Banco Montepio, which announced a plan to lay off between 600 and 900 people – although this is a bank that has not made the adjustment that several have made in previous years.
Montepio confirms plan to dispense “between 600 and 900 people”
In the case of Santander, the unions denounced this Thursday that “many workers at Banco Santander are being summoned to a meeting with human resources, in which an external consultant is also present”. This external consultant is, as the Observer found, the team of Susana Afonso, from CMS Pena & Arnaut.
“The objective is to present them with a proposal for termination by mutual agreement, with compensation for compensation”, say the unions. The Observer knows that, in these cases, Santander is offering up to two salaries per year of effectiveness in the bank, which is above the minimum required by law and above what others have offered – Montepio, for example, is offering 1.3 salaries a year (although the Observer has reported that the plan’s accounts contain scope to go up to 1, 6 salaries).
Employees are aware, however, that a significant portion of this compensation package may be lost to taxes. The unions stressed that they will not accept that workers are the target of “any kind of pressure or threat”, namely, the possibility of extinction of the job or of a collective dismissal. In addition, they advise workers, from now on, to resort to legal support so that they are sure “of the consequences of their decision”.
According to the information collected, the bank is also offering conditions that are equally common in these situations, such as maintaining special conditions for employee housing loans, a year and a half of health insurance and other support for reintegrating into the labor market. or opening your own business.