Unicaja Banco, bank entity based in Malaga (Andalusia), announced its merger with the Spanish bank Liberbank. The agreement aims at improving the profit margin by 50% of the earnings per share, which will require a cost reduction of €540 million, mostly entailing redundancies and offices closure. Specifically, the new Unicaja Banco plans to lay off around 1,900 employees (1,300 from Unicaja) and close 400 offices (246 from Unicaja), out of a total of 1,591.
Problems of duplication between Unicaja and Liberbank are scarce, only notable in Cáceres, Ciudad Real and Madrid. However, the bank will close many small offices in order to create larger ones, as is the trend in the banking sector. The restructuring is to be initiated after the approval of general meetings of shareholders of both entities (expected to occur in the first quarter of 2021), as well as regulatory approvals, which are expected by the end of the second quarter or early third quarter of 2021.
While the steps to implement this merger are being taken, the CC OO union continues to protest against salary cuts applied unilaterally by Liberbank at the beginning of 2020. Denounced before the National Court of Justice, the Court declared the measures null and made compulsory for the affected persons to return to their previous situation. However, the entity appealed, so the judgement is not yet final.
Update 05/10/2021: Unicaja Banco has reduced to 1513 the number of people affected by the collective redundancy plan (387 less than initially). The number of closed offices is slightly reduced to 395 (five less than initially), 27% of the current offices network. In addition, the company has presented various alternative measures to the collective dismissal plan: relocations and changes in working conditions. The UGT union has announced its opposition to any process involving non-voluntary leaves.
Update 22/10/2021: Unions have rejected Unicaja's offer to carry out the collective redundancy plan as they consider that the bank rejects voluntary leaves for people between 50 and 56 years of age, totaling almost 3,000 employees. CCOO states that there are only 173 employees older than 57 years, who are being offered a severance payment of between 50% and 52% of their salary. For this reason, the unions have called protests to demonstrate against the company's proposals.
Update 3/12/2021: Unicaja Banco and the unions have reached an agreement on the workforce adjustment plan, supported by 77% of the workers' representatives (only rejected by the trade union CESICA). The agreement maintains the number of employees affected (1,513), but voluntary and compensated: employees aged 63 leaving the company will receive 20 days of salary per year worked with a maximum of 12 monthly payments; those aged 54-62, 65% of gross salary; those aged 50-53, 65% limited to 7 annual payments; and those under 50, 40 days fixed gross salary per year with a maximum of 36 monthly payments. The agreement also establishes a relocation and functional mobility plan to avoid redundancies. The trade union UGT is satisfied with this agreement because it fulfills its premises of voluntary negotiation, decent leave conditions, and voluntary geographic mobility.