Bank of Valletta says it has no intention of shedding staff

BOV reacts to reports that it wants to cut workforce, insisting ‘new’ voluntary retirement schemes are simply a renewal of schemes the bank has always had in place

BOV has always had early retirement schemes in place, which it intends renewing as per agreement with the union
BOV has always had early retirement schemes in place, which it intends renewing as per agreement with the union

Bank of Valletta has denied press reports that it intends to cut its workforce by around 300 people, insisting it has “no intention of shedding staff”.

The bank said that ‘new’ voluntary retirement schemes were “simply a renewal of past schemes, with more flexibility”.

The bank was forced to release a statement on Sunday after The Sunday Times of Malta reported that BOV had issued early retirement schemes because it wanted to downsize operations.

The newspaper also quoted unnamed sources saying the bank wanted to reduce the workforce by between 200 and 300 employees.

BOV said it has always had retirement schemes in place and it had committed itself with the union, during collective agreement negotiations earlier this year, to renew its retirement schemes.

“Our aim is simply to continue offering such schemes in order to ensure that the bank is resourced with the skills it requires in the current situation. We will not be declaring any redundancies. Indeed, we are recruiting staff as we speak, and will continue to recruit more,” BOV said.

The bank said it was delivering on its promise to the union to issue early retirement schemes in response to requests made by staff members.

“These schemes have always been, and will remain, voluntary,” BOV said.

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Referring to an opinion piece carried in the Times of Malta last week by its CEO, in which he spoke of a “smaller bank”, BOV said the Sunday Times report misconstrued his words.

“The CEO spoke of a ‘smaller bank’, in an article published last week, not in terms of lower staff numbers, but in terms of the exiting of businesses and customer relationships. This should have been obvious from the context he was speaking in - de-risking the bank,” BOV said.

The Sunday news report used the CEO’s words to justify its reportage without asking the bank for a reaction.

The banking sector is undergoing somewhat of an upheaval as it re-adjusts to regulatory pressures.

A fortnight ago, HSBC announced the closure of several branches and plans to introduce voluntary redundancy schemes that it had to discuss with the union.

HSBC said its strategy was to shift more services online in line with customer banking trends. The decision to close branches was criticised primarily by the bank’s elderly customers.

READ ALSO: Bormla pensioners vent their frustration at HSBC’s branch closure

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