By Stelios Orphanides
Bank workers’ union Etyk said that Bank of Cyprus has decided to set up a non-performing loans platform in cooperation with another, unnamed company.
The reference to the alleged decision is included in a circular on the union’s website, dated November 2, in which it informs its members working for the island’s largest lender about its intention to take both legal and labour action to also prevent the bank from hiring staff outside the banking sector.
“We have realised that as part of (the bank’s) policy of devaluing unionism and cancelling of the agreements, Bank of Cyprus’s administration has unilaterally proceeded to appointing non-bankers to organic positions and to a massive outsourcing of operations to third parties,” the union, notorious for its militant rhetoric and practices, said.
This step, the union continued, affects “many functions and departments, such as the restructuring and recoveries department, the information technology department and others, while at the same time, (the administration) decided to set up a non-performing loans management platform in collaboration with another company without prior discussion with our organisation”.
Bank of Cyprus, which spearheaded the banks’ struggle against non-performing loans with the creation of an internal recovery department as early as in 2013, months after the culmination of the banking crisis, reduced its non-performing loan from two thirds of its loan portfolio to just half, or €9.7bn, in June, the lowest ratio among the three major lenders. The state-owned Cyprus Cooperative Bank and Hellenic Bank, which also struggle with delinquent loans to the tune of 60.1 per cent and 56 per cent of their respective portfolio, or €7.1 and €2.4bn, also decided to set up this type of platform.
Hellenic Bank set up APS Debt Servicing Cyprus with the Prague-based non-performing loans specialist APS Holdings in July, after announcing its intention to do so in January. The Cyprus Cooperative Bank is in the process of implementing such an agreement with Spain’s Altamira.
Bank of Cyprus was not immediately available for comment.
Etyk, which pledged to fight “flexible forms of employment”, will hold a meeting at its offices on Monday afternoon, to brief union officials at Bank of Cyprus on the situation and exchange views about “dynamic action” that will follow. It also asked the staff of Bank of Cyprus’s restructuring and recoveries unit to assemble on Tuesday to authorise a strike.