Spanish banking giant Santander, which also has a strong presence in Britain, Brazil and the United States, did not say what its plans were for its workers outside of Spain

Madrid (AFP) - Spanish banking giant Santander, the largest eurozone bank by capitalisation, said Monday it would not fire or temporarily lay off workers in Spain during the coronavirus pandemic.

“Santander is committed to maintaining employment in Spain and to not resort to layoffs during the coronavirus epidemic,” the bank, which employs some 29,000 people in Spain, said in a statement.

The company, which also has a strong presence in Britain, Brazil and the United States, did not say what its plans were for its workers outside of Spain.

Spain is Europe’s second-hardest hit country by the coronavirus outbreak, with over 33,000 confirmed cases of the disease and 2,182 deaths.

The government has since March 14 imposed an unprecedented national lockdown on the country of around 46 million people, with outings allowed only for essential reasons like buying food and medicine, which has paralysed the economy.

“Minimising the closure of companies and layoffs is key” to ensuring that the economy can recover quickly once the health emergency passes,” Economy Minister Nadia Calvino told a news conference.

Santander is already carrying out a huge restructuring of its operations in Britain and in Spain, where it is cutting 3,200 jobs following its purchase of its troubled smaller rival Banco Popular in 2017.

The banks plans to reduce by about 10 percent the number of its branches worldwide, as well as around three percent of its staff.