Since its merger with Banco Regional received approval from the Central Bank of Paraguay in June 2023, Irish-majority-owned Sudameris Bank has laid off over 600 employees while shutting down several branches across the country. The layoffs include many workers with decades of service, thereby contravening Paraguayan Banking Fund Law which mandates retirement for employees dismissed after more than twenty years of service.
Sudameris’ management has been accused of intimidating staff into accepting voluntary retirement packages to sidestep proper compensation. John O’Connell, General Secretary of the Irish Financial Services Union, condemned the bank’s tactics, stating that such behavior “is at total variance with the global standard of human rights” expected of significant financial institutions.
In addition to the layoffs, the bank has reportedly terminated the employment of pregnant workers and union leaders, violating rights to freedom of association. Clarissa Martinessi, from UNI affiliate FETRABAN, voiced concerns over the bank’s non-compliance with Paraguayan law and international labour standards.
“Unionists from the financial system of five continents gathered at the 6th World Conference of UNI Finance repudiated the conduct of Sudameris Bank and demanded an immediate reinstatement of the dismissed workers,” said Guillermo Maffeo, Regional Director or Finance of UNI Global Union Americas’ office.
The bank’s activities have also prompted UNI affiliate FSU Ireland to coordinate with Martinessi in a bid to exert pressure on Sudameris’ Irish ownership. Maffeo affirmed that UNI would continue to escalate union actions on multiple fronts to halt Sudameris’ labour practices and protect the livelihoods of affected employees.