Portugal: Court overturns decision to cut bank workers’ wages

A decision to cut bank workers’ wages has been overturned by a Portuguese court.

According to a report from The Federation of Financial Sector Unions (UGT/FEBASE)  in January, Porto District Court ruled in favour of bank unions that claimed wage cuts introduced in 2011 were unconstitutional (in Portuguese, 187 KB PDF).

The court ordered the Portuguese Bank of Business (BPN), now owned by Angola’s Banco BIC, to pay the money outstanding to workers since 2011. The court ruled that the bank should comply with the collective agreement covering members of the Northern Bank Workers Union (SBN), the Central Bank Workers Union (SBC and the Union of Bank Workers from the South and the Islands (SBSI).

BPN cut wages in the belief that the public sector wage cuts imposed by the 2011 state budget (specifically, Article 19 of Law No. 55-A/2010) applied to its workers. However, the court said the bank’s behaviour was unconstitutional because it violated the fundamental right to collective bargaining. BPN was told to comply with all the clauses of the collective agreement, including those dealing with pay, which it had ignored since January 2011.

BPN was nationalised by the government in 2008 because of bad management and the discovery of several irregularities, including a €1.8 billion debt caused by malpractice. In 2011 the bank was sold to Angola's Banco BIC with many of its debts and bad loans written off by the government.

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