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Hellenic Bank slams union strike call

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Hellenic Bank building

Hellenic Bank on Wednesday described the decision by the bank employees’ union Etyk to stage a 24-hour warning strike on May 31 as “sad and disappointing”.

The Etyk executive council announced the strike on Tuesday, warning that the measures would be intensified if the bank’s management fails to “comply with the law”. It also authorised the union’s secretariat to call strikes at the other banks “if deemed necessary.”

The union’s decision comes at a time of a stalled mediation procedure by the labour ministry. The reasons behind the decision, a union announcement said, were “violations of the agreements and laws by the Hellenic Bank management”.

One of the union’s complaints was that the bank had not restored the wages of the workers that were transferred to it from the Co-op Bank to pre-crisis levels, despite a labour ministry missive saying it was legally obliged to do so.

The main issue of the dispute, however, is the bank’s intention to make 350 staff redundant, rather than following the standard practice of offering a voluntary exit scheme, which is very costly. A voluntary exit scheme can lead to compensation of as much as €200,000, something Hellenic Bank is not prepared to offer.

“Such a decision at this stage is premature, proving which side seeks to negotiate and find a solution in good faith and which side seeks to impose itself by actions contrary to the Code of Industrial Relations, ethical practices and conduct of labour relations,” the bank said.

“The announced strike measures are detrimental to all parties involved and will further disrupt our banking system and the country’s economy, which is already facing extreme challenges due to global instability,” the bank added.

Moreover, the bank reiterated its intention and commitment to discussing all open and outstanding issues.

The bank also said that it seeks to find a middle ground in a spirit of conciliation, transparency and cooperation for the benefit of the bank, its employees and all parties involved, ultimately avoiding unnecessary and harmful confrontation.

“Problems are solved through constructive dialogue and not through unilateral and provocative measures,” the bank stated.

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