Spanish bank BBVA bares plan to shed 3,800 jobs and close 530 branches


Madrid, Spain—Spain’s second-largest bank BBVA is looking to shed 3,800 jobs, affecting 16 percent of its staff, the management said on Thursday in a move denounced by unions as “scandalous.”

The announcement came just two days after another hefty cut in banking jobs was announced by rival CaixaBank, which said it was planning to ax 8,300 staff.

“The proposed plan will affect 3,798 people.. and involve the closure of 530 branches,” BBVA’s management said in a statement to staff.  

In a separate statement, BBVA defended the decision, saying the banking sector was undergoing “a profound transformation” marked by intense competition, low-interest rates, and the accelerated adoption of online banking.

“Restructuring is necessary to ensure the future sustainability of employment, and the future viability of the business,” it concluded.  

But the CCOO Workers’ Union lashed out at the plan as “indefensible and scandalous,” saying the redundancies “would affect 16 percent of the workforce, 3,000 in the branch network and another 800 in the bank’s central services”.  

It also threatened to stage protests.  

It was the latest bank to announce layoff plans as the sector struggles to cope with record-low interest rates and an economic downturn sparked by the coronavirus pandemic, along with a surge in popularity of online banking services.

The move drew a rebuke from Yolanda Diaz, Spain’s labor minister, who told reporters in Brussels it was “not the right time” for such dismissals.

“The whole country and the whole of Europe is suffering (because of the pandemic) and everyone needs to be pulling in the same direction to protect jobs,” she said.  

In mid-November, BBVA announced it was locked in talks about a possible merger with smaller rival Banco Sabadell in a tie-up that would have created a top player within Spain’s banking sector.  

But just weeks later the plans were scrapped.  

There has been a wave of consolidation within the sector which has been encouraged by Spain’s central bank, with Caixabank completing a massive merger with its smaller rival Bankia last month.

On Tuesday, Caixabank confirmed it would shed nearly one in five jobs, affecting 8,291 staff, in cutbacks which were necessary as a result 

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