Spanish bank acts to protect staff from ´external aggressions´

Sabadell to protect staff/Shutterstock Images

Working in a bank has become a dangerous job. The reduction in the number of branches, limitation of cashier hours, increase in bank fees and commissions and financial discomfort for many customers has led to shouting, insults, threats and even physical attacks. Bank staff “come to work in fear.”

Banco Sabadell, the Spanish bank founded in 1881 with its registered office in Alicante, is putting together an action protocol against what it has called “external aggressions”, with the aim of reinforcing security. The action protocol was a decision made public by the bank’s own CEO, César González-Bueno, during the last shareholders’ meeting.

According to  information in the possession of the Sabadell staff representatives, last year bank employees reported up to six assaults with injuries, 76 cases of serious threats and up to 221 “conflicts” , a category which includes everything from insults to throwing objects.

“There has been a change in the model in the relationship with customers and there is a part of the clientele that does not accept it. If you are used to going through the branch and being attended to, and now they ask for an appointment or refer you to the cashier or internet, it doesn’t suit you,” say sources from the works council of the Alicante-based company.

Frustrated bank customer behaviour in 2023 is varied: “It ranges from the client who stands in the middle of the office and says that he does not move from there, to the one who throws the screen at you or spits on you,” the union pointed out.

Sabadell bank has found that smaller branches and those with exclusively female staff are more likely to suffer aggressions. Also, there are days with higher risk: pension payment day (more customers and queues) and days when commissions are charged.

Sabadell bank will offer workers the so-called panic button for employees to warn of robberies and aggressions, emotional support and legal assistance. One of the most important changes, according to the unions, is that from now on it will be the bank itself that reports these cases directly to the police, without the need for the employee to do so.

The protocol also states that the bank will aim to end its relationship with customers who are abusive. Training is also planned so that workers know how to deal with abusive situations and how to handle them.

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