UNI Global Union trade unions representing banking employees in Italy are calling for all bank branches to close for at least 14 days to protect workers from COVID-19.

Five banking sector trade unions, FABI, FIRST-CISL, FISAC-CGIL, UILCA and UNISIN, have spent the day negotiating with Italy’s Banking Association, ABI.  

“(We) are calling on the President of ABI’s industrial relations committee, Salvatore Poloni, to close all bank branches across Italy for at least two weeks while guaranteeing – as banks are a key public service – the use of ATMs and home banking systems,” said the unions’ general secretaries in a joint statement.

The unions, which represent close to 80 per cent of around 300,000 banking workers in Italy, also want the same measures to apply to the cooperative banking sector.

All but essential services such as banks, supermarkets and pharmacies have been shut in Italy since a total lockdown was imposed on 9 March.

Some branches of banks in Italy have already taken the decision to close their doors, but elsewhere branches are open and measures to protect workers vary from bank to bank. This is particularly evident in banks in small villages that don’t have the resources of a multinational banking group. Italian unions now want to ensure safety of all workers in the sector with a blanket shut down.

UNI’s Head of Finance Sector, Angelo Di Cristo, said:

“We urge Italy’s Banking Association to listen to workers. Bank employees are in public-facing roles and put themselves at great risk each and every day. Some branches have already closed, so it’s only right that all banking workers are treated equally across the sector.”

UNI will provide an update on the outcome of the negotiations.