Madrid (AFP)

The second Spanish bank BBVA announced Thursday to the unions its intention to cut 3,800 jobs in Spain, or 16% of its workforce, according to the union Workers' Commissions (CCOO).

This new social plan intervenes in a Spanish banking sector plagued by a hemorrhage of jobs, two days after the announcement by the giant CaixaBank of the elimination of nearly 8,300 positions after its takeover of Bankia.

The job cuts at BBVA "represent 16% of the workforce and affect 3,000 people in the network of agencies (...) and 800 in the central services" of the group, the union said in a statement.

The bank also intends to remove a total of 530 branches, continued CCOO who described this plan as "unsustainable and scandalous" and threatened the management with a call for the "mobilization" of employees.

"This is not the time for these kinds of projects," also criticized Labor Minister Yolanda Diaz.

In the context of the Covid-19 pandemic, "the whole country, all of Europe is suffering and everyone must fight for one goal, which is the maintenance of jobs", underlined Ms. Diaz, the one of the main figures of the ruling left coalition.

BBVA tried in the fall to merge with Spain's fifth bank, Banco Sabadell, but the project was ultimately abandoned.

BBVA justifies the layoff plan by the "context of deep transformation" of the banking sector, citing "great competitive pressure, low interest rates, the accelerated adoption of digital channels by customers, and the arrival of new players digital, "a spokesperson told AFP.

BBVA clients' internet transactions in Spain have increased by 87% in two years, while branch transactions have fallen by 48%, he said.

These job cuts will come on top of more than a decade of continued job losses in Spain's banking sector.

Devastated by the financial crisis, Spanish banks separated between 2008 and 2019 by nearly 100,000 people, or about 37% of the workforce in 2008, according to the Bank of Spain.

Besides CaixaBank, other Spanish banks have also announced job cuts in recent months.

Sabadell cut more than 1,800 jobs at the end of 2020 while Banco Santander announced last year the cut of 3,500 jobs.

© 2021 AFP