CaixaBank plans to cut its workforce by 8,291 employees

Job cuts derived from the purchase of Bankia would be the second largest in the history of Catalonia

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Change of logo to Bankia's iconic operational headquarters in Madrid.

Barcelona8.291 employees. This is the number of workers affected by the historic labour force adjustment plan that CaixaBank has announced to cut its workforce after the absorption of Bankia, which became effective at the end of March. The impact of this employment regulation file is shocking: in the financial sector, which has cut almost 100,000 jobs since 2008, there has never been one so large. In the history of Catalonia, only one was worse: in 1993, 9,000 Seat employees lost their jobs. One last piece of information: if the 8,291 workers impacted by the ERE were all in Catalonia, they would be the sixth largest company in Catalonia in terms of employees, a ranking which in 2015 was led by Seat with 13,100, followed by Mercadona with 12,000, the subsidiaries of ACS (10,700) and CaixaBank itself, which had 10,200 workers in Catalonia then, and then BBVA with 8,400 employees. Those affected by the ERE at CaixaBank would be above the next company in the ranking, the Barcelona Metropolitan Transport authority, which had 7,800 workers.

Union sources had warned in recent days that they feared the bank chaired by José Ignacio Goirigolzarri would make a very tough initial proposal, to then end up giving in during negotiations with the unions. They hope the figue will eventually be somewhere between 7,000 and 8,000 employees. The number of affected will not be the only bone of contention of the negotiation. It remains to be seen whether the bank can maintain its tradition of cutting staff through early retirements and incentivised departures, a standard practice in the financial sector, or if they will have to resort to layoffs, as Goirigolzarri himself warned recently. The problem for the Catalan bank headquartered in Valencia is that the areas where it has more workers over 52 (cut-off age of the last cuts) are not the areas where it has more staff left over, a fact that opens the door to layoffs.

Thirdly, and as a result of the latter, the unions fear that CaixaBank wants to change the rules that establishes that employees must be willing to work up to 25 kilometres away from their assigned workplace. The intention of the entity, the workers' representatives pointed out, was to make this limit disappear in order to force workers to work further away from where they have been working until now.

The merger with Bankia has made CaixaBank the largest bank in Spain in terms of retail banking and, according to its own calculations, would have to bring about €700m more profit per year to an entity that earned €1.4bn in 2020 and €1.8m in 2019. These benefits come from the increase in customers that the absorption of Bankia involves along with a cut in staff that scaling up allows, both in terms of offices and in central services. Whatever happens in the back office, in fact, will be key to see to how Catalan bank remains and whether its power centres remain in Barcelona or move to Madrid, where its two main executives, Goirigolzarri and CEO Gonzalo Gortázar, live. In a recent recent interview with ARA Goirigolzarri was clear in explaining the reason for the merger: "We want the merger because to be sustainable over time we have to be profitable".

However, the meeting this Tuesday between CaixaBank and the unions will be only the first in a process that will take a few months. The intention of the bank is to resolve the issue before the end of the quarter, on June 30.