January 30, 2013 / 2:41 PM / 5 years ago

Vodafone Spain to lay off 650 workers - unions

MADRID, Jan 30 (Reuters) - Mobile phone operator Vodafone plans to dismiss 650 staff in its Spanish division, labour unions said on Wednesday, lower than the cuts of up to 1,000 initially expected.

The London-listed company is in talks with unions to reduce its staff of around 4,000 in Spain, where it is losing out to cheaper competitors such as Yoigo and “virtual” mobile operators which sell on bandwidth rented from other operators.

“The company made clear that the dismissal plan will go ahead with or without an agreement,” unions said in a statement after a meeting with Vodafone on Tuesday.

Vodafone said it could not make any comment until talks finish on Feb. 14.

Vodafone wrote down the value of its businesses in Spain and Italy by 5.9 billion pounds ($9.3 billion) in November, saying economic weakness and unemployment had led to service revenue dropping 11 percent in Spain in the nine months through September.

Vodafone followed incumbent Telefonica’s lead and scrapped smartphone subsidies in April, then decided to bring them back in November after losing over 1 million mobile connections, according to data from Spain’s telecoms watchdog.

Vodafone entered into negotiations with unions earlier this month, with unions initially expecting up to 1,000 jobs, or a quarter of the workforce, to go.

As well as dismissing 650 workers, Vodafone wants to outsource 130 jobs and change conditions, including salary and hours, for 120 more, unions said.

Many large Spanish companies have laid off workers to save costs during the recession, pushing the unemployment rate to 26 percent.

Telefonica said in 2011 it would cut 6,500 jobs from its domestic business over three years, while airline Iberia is in talks with unions to axe around 4,500 posts.

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