Italian bank Banca Popolare di Vicenza has announced its intention to dismiss up to 1,500 workers over coming months.
The job cuts follow a severe financial crisis which began in 2015 when inspections of the Bank of Italy and of the European Central Bank discovered a huge level of impaired loans. The public prosecutor office of Vicenza initiated an inquiry for stock manipulation and obstruction of regulatory authorities. In 2015, the bank already set out a restructuring plan (see Banca Popolare di VicenzaIT-2015) but this failed to stem a further collapse in the value of its shares. The company was eventually acquired for a very low price by Quaestio Capital Management (a fund consisting mainly of Italian credit institutions whose aim is to support banks undergoing difficulties).
The new management is currently defining measures addressing problems of mismanagement (including a liability action against the former general manager and conciliation discussions with defrauded clients). It is also considering a restructuring plan aimed at relaunching the bank. The possibility of a merger with Veneto Banca is being assessed.
Unions opposed the dismissals and announced industrial action. According to the unions, the bank lacks a credible recovery plan. Unions also called on public institutions to agree measures to avoid the crisis of the banking sector having further disruptive effects on the economy.
Update, 16 December 2016: An agreement was reached on the first round of exits. The agreement entails 234 incentivised voluntary dismissals, to be implemented mainly by means of early retirements. On 1 December 2016, the company started a new collective dismissal procedure aimed at implementing another 700 job cuts in 2017.