A GROUP of nuns in Toledo has become the latest victim of Spain’s economic turmoil.
The 10 Order of St Clare nuns have held convent-based clerical jobs, in putting data and processing credit card refunds for Banco Popular Espana for years, but have recently had their hours cut as Spain’s fifth largest bank looks to make savings.
Banco Popular began hiring nuns in the late 1970s. The bank does more business with the Catholic Church than any other Spanish lender, said bankers who work with religious institutions.
A spokesman for Popular said the bank pays nuns for back-office work because they do it to perfection and their convents need the money. “We have a very satisfactory relationship with them,” he said.
The workload also has declined for the nuns at the Monasterio de San Benito who stuff envelopes for Ibercaja for about €1,200 a month. The bank increasingly is sending fewer envelopes because it contacts clients by email.
As in other convents, Popular helped equip an office at San Juan of Penitencia. Except for the framed portraits of St. Clare and St. Pancras on the walls, it resembles any white-collar workplace—with computer monitors, wide desks, photocopiers and fax machines.
A spokesman for the bank said the nuns are paid a “market price.”
Bank employees who perform similar tasks and are covered by collective-bargaining agreements are paid at a rate of just over €7 an hour.