Goodbye to “social peace”: CaixaBank and BBVA face mobilizations if EREs do not improve

The unions have received with surprise and indignation the figures and the conditions proposed at the beginning of the negotiation of the dismissals.

This is how the new CaixaBank looks at the old Bankia headquarters in Madrid and Valencia

The conditions of the Employment Regulation Files (ERE) that have been presented this week CaixaBank Y BBVA They have unleashed the indignation of the unions, which, although they expected the adjustments, did not imagine that they could reach such high figures.

At the beginning of the negotiations, CaixaBank presented to the workers’ representatives a plan that implies the exit of 8,291 employees, that is, 18% of its workforce in Spain. For its part, BBVA, which has started trading almost simultaneously, has proposed to cut 3,798 jobs, 13% of its workforce in Spain (16% of BBVA SA, the company affected by the adjustment).

“Demolishing”, “demolition”, “chilling”, “exorbitant”. The workers’ representatives have made use of dozens of adjectives in recent days that make clear their anger with the management of both entities. The anger stems mainly from the number of people affected, which they consider high, but in the case of CaixaBank also from the proposals for forced layoffs and the economic conditions put on the table, worse than in previous adjustments.

José Ignacio Goirigolzarri, Chairman of CaixaBank.

José Ignacio Goirigolzarri, Chairman of CaixaBank.

A union source present at the CaixaBank ERE negotiating table explains to this newspaper that their calculations estimate the surplus of the workforce at 5,000 workers “at the most” after the integration of Bankia, for which it considers the proposed figure “absolutely unacceptable”, as well as the limits on voluntary affiliation to the ERE.

The bank, always according to its initial proposal, reserves the possibility of rejecting all requests for voluntary adherence to the file when the surplus limit is exceeded in each area, department or province, when the requests of those over 50 years of age (whose severance payments are more expensive than those of the employees with less seniority) exceed 50% of the proposed terminations and when “In the opinion of the entity the maintenance of the person in the entity is necessary”.

And, on the contrary, if the necessary losses are not reached, those affected by the merit criterion will be selected, assessing the professional performance of recent years.

We have lost a little respect for the figures. There are many families behind, ”a union representative at the BBVA negotiating table explains to Invertia, acknowledging that the figures on the table exceed, for the worse, all their expectations.

Distant postures

That is why the positions of the unions are, at least for the moment, very far from those of the directors of both banks and, above all, from the signing of individual agreements on collective redundancies. “If we continue with this approach there will be no agreement. If there is no voluntariness, we will not sign, ”says a CaixaBank union source.

They are more so than in previous collective dismissal negotiations and that the bank has made several adjustments in recent years, which over 100,000 jobs have been carried forward since 2008, when the maximum number of workers in the sector was registered, and more than 90,000 only in the last decade.

Carlos Torres Vila, president of BBVA, during his speech.

Carlos Torres Vila, president of BBVA, during his speech.
Enrique Falcon

In fact, unions already contemplate the path of mobilization as a measure of pressure in the face of the conditions put on the table by the banks, according to several sources from the workers’ representatives.

“We have to assess all the scenarios”, points out one of them, which recalls, however, that only the first meeting has been held in both negotiations and that “without a doubt, the approaches should be able to vary”.

The “social peace”

This attitude on the part of the unions gives clues about the distancing of the relationship that is being generated with the entities, which in general terms has always been positive. The negotiations of the major adjustments that the banks have carried out in recent years have been settled with union support in the vast majority of cases.

This has also been the case in the negotiations of sectoral agreements. The different employers and unions have spent the last months closing the details on the four sector conventions (banking, savings, credit financial institutions and cooperatives) that expired in 2019 and were pending signature.

He was congratulating himself on this just a few days ago Jose Maria Roldan, president of the Spanish Banking Association (AEB), in a meeting with the media held within the framework of its annual meeting.

“I have been seven years [al frente de la AEB] and one of the most positive elements is social peace. We have just signed the agreement with unions in a sector that is always in a complex environment. I appreciate that social peace that has occurred“, Affirmed Roldán, who will not renew next year in the presidency of the employer’s association, in relation to the strong employment adjustments that the bank is carrying out.

However, as in everything, there are exceptions. This is the case of the relationship that unions maintain with Liberbank, an entity that has been brought to court on several occasions for the unilateral imposition of salary cuts and for ERE not agreed at the dialogue table.

We will have to wait until the end of the negotiations to see if this “social peace” survives despite the circumstances or ends up weighing more the worsening conditions of the EREs and their large volume. In both cases there are weeks of tough negotiations between the banks and the unions, so, at least for the moment, there is room to return to the path of understanding.