workers freedom

economics as if workers mattered

International Day of Solidarity with Santander Workers Dec. 12

The conflict against Santander Bank-Isban continues to increase with no sign of willingness to dialogue from the company. After the dismissal of Isban CNT-AIT section union delegate, revolutionary unions federated in the IWA-AIT are spreading the message of the workers in struggle and preparing coordinated actions worldwide.

(Note that Santander bought the U.S.-based Sovereign Bank during the financial crisis, and last month rebranded all Sovereign outlets under the Santander name.)

Isban: Missery, slavery and fear

Isban, a computer services company owned by the overpowerful Santander group property of Emilio Botin, is the umbrella company that sustain a network of “cannon fooder” provider companies that act as temporary employment agencies and set cheap and precarious labor.

More than 10,000 employees worldwide are illegally transferred to Isban, so to fire someone they simply inform the temporary employment agencies on duty. (In Spain and many other countries, employees have legal rights against discharge once past a probationary period.) No cost to the bank, of course, as according to them it is not a redundancy but a “project change,”  the agency then either dismisses the worker or transfers them to another “customer” company.

Through this practice millionaires benefit by saving in hiring and firing, while maintaining dozens of companies under their control. All obey its guidelines as none wants to lose a profitable “client.” Some even give up to 100% of its employees to the bank, weaving a network of illegal subcontracting mafia.

The climate of fear and helplessness that Isban workers live is absolute, fearing homelessness if they make even minimal protest. This facilitates the acceptance of surreal working hours, overtime and mandatory shifts, schedules and work schedule as, categories and wages below the roles played and countless more outrages.

Santander Group: Greed, corruption and spoiling

Recently there have been hundreds of irregular dismissals across the Santander group, framed in what workers have denounced as undercover Redundancy Dismissal Procedure. Santander Back-office (SBGM) and Isban CSA services staff have seen their rates reduced to 50% in a few months. In addition, the workers selected to leave the bank have been less “temporary” staff and the most vulnerable. The outsiders (workers illegally transferred), short-time mothers and displaced workers abroad have been the preferred targets for cuts. With the collusion of government and scab unions, massive job destruction comes out practically free for the Santander group.

And all this despite the fact that the Santander Group is not losing money, but rather made a profit of €2,255 million in the first six months of 2013, almost 30% more than in the same period of 2012. An extremely hypocritical attitude clashes with the group advertising image which boast of lifting the country thanks to the trust in people and the future. A future of millions of people led to unemployment and poverty.

It is not the first time the tyrannical methods of the billionaire Emilio Botin are reported, but so far has not been done justice. In 2008 the Supreme Court filed by defects in the process the case against Botin and other bank executives for the irregular buying of Banesto bank. In 2012 the National Hearing filed the famous case of Swiss accounts after the Botin family disburse €200 million to “regularize the situation.”

Recently have uncovered new atrocities committed by this multinational giant as promoting subprime mortgages that caused the current economic crisis. The credit institution UCI, Santander Group, awarded for years unaffordable loans. We were not living beyond our means, the bank was mortaging above our means: to take advantage of defaults after foreclosing and evicting the most vulnerable.

It is curious that in early 2008, when the world crisis was not yet on everyone’s lips, Santander sold almost all its real estate. Even the luxurious Boadilla financial city (bank headquarters with over 160 acres of offices, hotels and even a golf camp) was sold and maintained rented since then. The Botin CEOs knew what they had generated and protected their interests by selling at a good price before the bubble burst.

Other liens have contributed to the growth of the assets of the business group. While the boom brick lasted, the bank provided loans to builders millionaires, some of them involved in the case of urbanism corruption Malaya case. After the fall of the construction sector, the bank foreclosed on their properties, which now are gived to the new generation family who hire their mortgages.

Other notorious case is the extortionate interest charges to college students through Santander Bank accounts that are automatically engaged when enrolling in universities that have agreements with the group. Again Santander uses its position of power to bleed the people that have made them rich.

Last September 17th, Rodrigo Rato (ex-Spanish economy minister) was named international councelor in Santander group. In the past, he was Santander councelor between 2008 and 2010. Then he was named president of Caja Madrid (Bankia). He dismissed after asking the Spanish government for a rescue plan for the savings bank of €6,000 million of public funds.

Rato announced €309 million of benefits for Bankia in 2011. But when he left, Bankia got €3,000 million of losses. He is on trial since July 2012 because of Bankia management and the millionaire losses. Now he comes back to Botin side exploiting the Spanish revolving door system, where politicians easily become businessmen and vice versa.

What’s more, Santander Bank has €96,72 million in arms companies’ mutual funds. The product of this funding is high-tech military weaponry like Leopard tanks, M45, M51, ASMP, ICBM y Minuteman nuclear missiles, Trident and Ohio nuclear submarines, uranium ammunition for Challenger2 and CHARM3 tanks, cluster bombs… Their money is stained with the blood of the wars that kill our people.

Santander Group also promotes the worst forms of torture designed by human beings being in charge of managing the financial movements of correctional institutions and other public administrations. Since 2002 Santander receives profits from the judicial accounts. The payment of penalties fine, bonds, indemnities and salaries of about 50,000 jailers and employees of the judiciary, as well as the money destinated to the prisons in the Spanish State. More than 3 billion euros annually from the business of State torture are managed by Santander Group.

This way, Santander CIOs become accomplices to all the torture and deaths of prisoners in custody in the Spanish State. More than 100 people were killed during the years 2010 and 2011. More than 6.986 cases of torture at the hands of the Spanish State were reported between 2001 and 2010.

The workers’ response

In this anti-workers policy, Santander interests collide now with organized workers. The dismissal of the delegate of the National Confederation of Workers CNT at Isban has triggered the rapid escalation of the conflict, because this violation of freedom will not be tolerated here or anywhere.


Section of Telecommunications and Information Services, CNT-AIT Madrid  isban[arroba]

The CNT has called for the next International day of action against Santander Bank on December 12th. We are asking all our comrades to carry out the following actions, as far as they are able:

– Demonstrations at the doors of Santander Bank, Isban or Panel Sistemas branches.

– Closing accounts of unions and individuals in Santander Bank, informing that the closing is done in solidarity with the Isban workers on fight in Madrid.

– E-mails in solidarity with the Isban workers on fight and claiming for the fired comrade readmission to the following e-mail adresses:;;;;

If there is anyone interested in joining in in Pennsylvania, please get in touch.

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