MILAN/ROME, July 27 Workers at top Italian banks
UniCredit and Banca Monte dei Paschi di Siena
went on strike on Friday to protest against job losses
and pay cuts, forcing 80 to 90 percent of branches at the two
lenders to remain shut, trade unions said.
The twin strikes, which follow one earlier in July at Intesa
Sanpaolo, came as Italian bank executives face pressure
to slash costs and shed assets to repair balance sheets hit in
the euro zone debt crisis.
"The heavy participation to the strikes also shows that
there is a big distance between staff and top executives," Fabi
union leader Lando Maria Sileoni said in a statement.
Workers at Monte Paschi, which has asked for state aid to
plug a capital shortfall, are opposed to Chief Executive
Fabrizio Viola's plan to cut 15 percent of the bank's workforce
and close 400 branches out of 3,000.
The over 4,600 job cuts planned by the Siena-based lender
include 2,300 back office personnel and 1,300 employees of units
that will be sold.
"Bankers cannot possibly think there is room for their
compensations while at the same time jobs and salaries ... are
put into question," Agostino Megale, Fisac secretary general,
Workers at UniCredit, Italy's biggest bank by assets and
which is led by Chief Executive Federico Ghizzoni, are opposed
to the suspension of a bonus payment.
Monte Paschi's head of human resources said in an interview
with Reuters the bank would start talks with unions early in
August with the aim of reaching an agreement in 50 days.
UniCredit said the bonus payment was tied to its business
plan to 2015, which envisages a recovery in profitability,
greater labour flexibility and a staff rationalisation.
"The UniCredit group, notwithstanding a very complex year
for the entire financial industry, is available to pay a
collective bonus to staff which is coherent with is 2015
business plan," the bank said.
Unions at Intesa Sanpaolo went on strike on July 2 to
protest against feared pay cuts after Italy's biggest retail
bank put on hold 4,200 planned layoffs because of the
government's pension reform.
(Reporting by Stefano Bernabei and Andrea Mandala; Editing by