Staff at Hellenic Bank on Tuesday announced they will go on a 24-hour warning strike next week, warning the measures will be intensified if the bank’s management fails to “comply with the law”.

The strike, on May 31, was decided during a board meeting of the bank employees union Etyk at which 99.5 per cent, or 5,714 members of all banks, voted in favour of the work stoppage.

In a written statement, the union said the reasons behind the measure were “violations of the agreements and laws by the Hellenic bank management”.

The strike will act as a warning, they added, while in case the Hellenic Bank Management does not comply and abide by the agreements and the law, such as the decisions of the labour minister, then the measures will be intensified and extended.

The board of the union has already authorised the general secretariat, if it deems necessary, to extend the measures to the other banks, it added.

Hellenic – the island’s second-largest commercial lender – under CEO Oliver Gatzke is hoping to slash costs amid branch closures and increasing digitalisation which has reduced demand for much of its staff, which it plans to decrease in number.

The union counters that the bank should offer a voluntary retirement plan, a move which is viewed as costly and unlikely to reduce staff by the necessary amount.

Gatzke had said the bank has put other problematic practices on the table, including the automatic indexation of wages, employer’s contribution to Etyk’s health fund, and pay rises.

“Salaries cannot rise at a rate of 5 per cent a year given that the bank has not paid out a dividend since 2013,” he noted.