GREECE – Staff at the National Bank of Greece have opposed new plans for voluntary retirement fearing another mass staff exodus and increasing financial burdens.

“We are opposing the voluntary exit of employees plan,” said Dimitris Tsoukalas, vice president of the Federation of Bank Employees (OTOE).

The bank has postponed implementing the new plans for now following “strong discussions” with the National Bank of Greece trade union in collaboration with OTOE.

In the second half of last year voluntary exit schemes were introduced mainly in the banking and public utilities sector.

The aim was to reduce operating and payroll costs, increase the number of younger and better-qualified staff and to boost competitive market positions.

If the new plans go ahead OTOE estimate that more than 1,400 people will be “pushed out” on top of the 1,466 who left in November last year.

The implementation of the plan will thus see a substantial financial burden fall on the shoulders of the remaining employees, said Tsoukalas.

He stated that further talks would be held with the Bank later this month.

According to one senior National Bank staff member wishing to remain anonymous, there is much uncertainty about the new plans.

“Everything is hearsay. I don’t know if the concern is justified,” she told IPE.

“This is just a proposal for the time being. We don’t know when the board of directors at the bank is going to implement it. There is no concrete or precise proposal yet.”

The National Bank of Greece could not be reached for comment.