KBC announces 1,400 job losses in Belgium

The bank and insurance company KBC has announced 1,400 jobs in Belgium. The job losses will be spread over the next three years. KBC says that the job cuts will be achieved through natural wastage. The announcement was made after an extraordinary meeting of KBC’s Work’s Council. In addition to the reduction by 1,400 of the number of people employed directly by KBC in Belgium the company also intends to terminate the contracts of 400 external contractors that work for its Belgian operation.   

The restructuring announced on Wednesday morning has come about as a result of the drive to cut costs that was announced by the bank and insurer’s management in May. Bosses at KBC say that they want their organisation to be able to work quicker and more efficiently. Previously the number of management positions at KBC was reduced.    

In Belgium 1,400 of the 15,000 full time positions at KBC’s Belgian operation will disappear. 300 position will be transferred to the company’s operation in Brno in the Czech Republic and Varna in Bulgaria. The 400 external contractors whose contracts will be terminated are mainly IT consultants and staff that work for temping agencies.   

KBC maintains that it will be able to make the jobs cuts through natural wastage. Each year around 500 KBC staff either retire or leave of their own free will. The bank and insurer’s CEO Johan Thijs says that as a result of there are now plans for collective redundancy or other measures.      

Banks under pressure

KBC is not the only bank that is restructuring. Earlier this year BNP Parisbas Fortis announced that it is closing 267 branches over the next three years.  

The banks are feeling the impact of historically low rates of interest. This has impacted the banks’ profit margins.   

Also digitalisation is on the one hand requiring the banks to made big investments in IT while at the same undermine the tradition modal of bank branches on the High Street.