Rome, September 16 - Italian national banks association ABI met with unions on Monday and gave formal notice that it is exercising its right to dissolve national contracts currently in force in order to precipitate new negotiations. ABI announced in a statement it had the legal right to cancel the contracts if it gave notice at least six months prior to expiration, set for June 30, 2014. In a letter to the unions, ABI said one reason for the move was Italy's deep recession, which has seen the economy contract every quarter since July-September 2011. "For the banks, the fall in profitability has proven significant and unsustainable; in frequent cases, returns are negative," ABI said in the letter. ABI added that recent regulatory reforms and the need to reinforce capital ratios also weighed on the banks, as did high labour costs compared to European counterparts. Moreover, automated banking and higher technology was increasing in importance, while the advantages of physical branches and their personnel were on the decline. ABI complained that Italy's recent pension reforms, which increased the age at which many workers can retire, had the adverse effect of leaving banks over-staffed.