In one of the most emblematic streets in Lisbon, which is once again busy, after several months ‘desert’ due to the covid-19 pandemic, several tourists stopped to see a group of bank workers holding signs that read “we are not just numbers ”, in a concentration called by the Mais – Financial Sector Union (from UGT) and by the National Union of Banking Staff and Technicians (SNQTB, independent).
After, in September, BCP and Santander Totta had confirmed that they would go ahead with collective redundancies (since they did not manage to get the intended number of workers to come out by agreement), all the bank unions called a strike – the first national since 1988 – and several options across the country.
For the president of Mais Sindicato, António Fonseca, the administrations of the banks are being intransigent regarding the reduction of workers.
“BCP has already dismissed around 750 people, including collective redundancies and reforms, and Santander has also reduced around 1,200 workers. Here we have, the unions, that is enough. Enough of the reduction of workers. I think it has to be done gradually, with more social support and more social responsibility”, the union leader told Lusa.
The official recalled that the unions of bank workers that belong to the General Union of Workers (UGT) filed, on Thursday, an injunction to try to challenge the collective dismissal, which they considered illegal.
“If there is a threat between ‘either you accept the termination by mutual agreement, or you will go to collective dismissal’, we think this is illegal”, pointed out Mais Sindicato.
For António Fonseca, “banks are taking advantage of the opportunity” of customers moving away from banks, due to the pandemic and the digitization of services, to constantly reduce human resources “inhumanely”.
In turn, the vice president of SNQTB, Luís Cardoso Botelho, considers that those banks are carrying out a “very aggressive” IT process.
“With this process, two banks will exit, or are about to leave, about 2,000 workers: 1,300 at Santander, 700 at BCP. We believe that this is an excessive exit, taking into account the banking, economic and financial indicators, especially the Santander bank, [que] in Portugal it is one of the best banks in the Santander group, in Europe and in the world”, pointed out the leader of the independent union.
Luís Cardoso Botelho underlined that this is a reduction of 25% of workers in the case at Santander and from 14% to 15% at BCP.
“We do not accept, we reject this way of dialoguing with workers and, therefore, we go on strike. […] This union did everything we could not to get here, we knocked on every door we could have, President of the Republic, Prime Minister, Government, an Assembly of the Republic, parties”, he pointed out.
For Casimiro Gonçalves, a BCP employee, workers are just “numbers” for the bank’s administration.
“They [a administração] want to do is money, money, money, nothing more than that. We are just numbers”, lamented the worker, who will retire next year.
In recent months, unions have been accusing the banks of labor repression and blackmailing workers, considering that they are forcing them to accept to leave because of terminations (without access to unemployment benefits) or early retirements. This at the same time they have high profits created.
BCP had profits of 12.3 million euros in the first half (84% less than in the same period in 2020) and Santander Totta 81.4 million euros (52.9%) less.
MPE (IM) // CSJ