Spain braces for 4,000 job cuts
Madrid, January 5, 2013
Spanish banking unions are braced for thousands of more job cuts this year, starting with redundancies at Spain's largest bank Santander after its merger with subsidiary Banesto.
Unions said yesterday they expect between 3,000 and 4,000 jobs to go as a result of the merger and would hold talks next week with the bank.
With 6,000 jobs also going at Bankia and thousands of redundancies at other nationalised banks, the year has started on a gloomy note for many workers in Spain where around one in four of the workforce is already jobless.
In the financial sector alone, banking unions estimate 12,000 job losses this year, on top of about 35,000 cuts since the middle of 2008 when Spain's property crisis began to grip the industry.
Spain has received 40 billion euros in European aid to restore its financial system, but as a condition of the aid - much of which will go to nationalised lenders including Bankia - troubled lenders must cut more jobs and sell assets.
Santander last month announced plans to fully absorb its 110-year-old Banesto brand, closing 700 branches to cut costs.
The bank had warned of job losses stemming from the branch closures after the Banesto tie-up but said they would be implemented gradually.
"We'll start to talk about the cuts with Santander next week. The bank hasn't confirmed any numbers, but we think the final figure will be closer to 3,000," said Jose Miguel Villa, secretary general of the services federation for Spain's second-largest union UGT.
A Santander spokeswoman said the bank will meet with unions on Wednesday but would not give any further details such as on the scale or timing of any reductions.
Unions will also begin talks with state-owned Bankia on Wednesday over previously announced plans to lay off 6,000 of its 20,000-strong workforce, Villa said.
Spanish airline Iberia is negotiating 4,500 job cuts - a quarter of its workforce - with unions as part of a wider restructuring it says is necessary for its survival.-Reuters