Financial messaging outfit Swift has dismissed reports that 300 jobs are on the line at its headquarters in La Hulpe, Belgium, as it acts to cut costs amid a decline in traffic volumes over the inter-bank network.
The banking co-operative has employed consultancy group McKinsey to run the rule over the company's business processes under an intensive 18-month operational review.
The move to cut costs comes as Swift prepares to report a decline in year-on-year traffic volumes for the first time in its 37-year history. Year-to-date traffic volumes are two-and-half per cent down on last year and 11% off the projected forecast for the year.
Speaking at the Society's annual user conference in Hong Kong last week, Swift CEO Lazaro Campos accepted that the company would not be able to achieve its goals without headcount reductions.
But Swift has hit back at local press reports that it is trying to by-pass its legal obligations in Belgium and axe 300 staff at its headquarters in La Hulpe.
The company says it has set a target of trimming EUR90 million from its operational costs by 2011, one-third of which will be achieved through non-labour cost savings such as travel, general office expenses, suppliers' contracts, premises.
In a statement, the company says: "The overall cost saving cannot be achieved without reducing the number of employees. By 2011, Swift will need to have reduced the number of FTEs worldwide by 20 percent (Full Time Equivalents: i.e. full-time and part-time employees, contractors, temporary staff). It is doing this by a combination of measures including a hiring freeze, reduction in contract and temporary staff, early retirement programmes, natural turnover and redundancies."
However, Swift says that media reports that there will be 300 job losses in Belgium are "untrue".
The statement continues: "Claims that Swift is trying to by-pass its legal obligations in Belgium (otherwise known as Loi Renault) are also untrue. This legislation only applies in specific circumstances, which are not relevant to the Swift situation."
Swift says instead that it will continue to work with the Works Council and trade unions to explore "further alternatives" to redundancies.
The company has also hit out at claims of excessive bonus pay-outs for senior staff, noting that "over the past five years, the bonus pools for all categories of staff have remained relatively constant except for senior management and executives, for whom the pools were reduced last year by more than ten percent."