Banking Collective Labour Agreement: “when” and “what”…

I am frequently asked “When will the next collective agreement be signed?“. I am of course always delighted to see banking sector workers taking an interest in the important union activities relating to the renewal of the sector’s collective agreement. I do feel however, and I suspect that this change reflects developments in society as a whole, that people are more interested in the “when” rather than the “what“. To put it another way, first they want to know when it is going to be signed, and only then do they want to know what it actually contains.

A brief recap: following on from the 2014–2016 CLA, which terminated at the end of 2016, a one-year collective agreement covering the whole of 2017 was signed on 22 June 2017. We are going to terminate this agreement during November, and that is when negotiations will start again “officially”, this time I hope with a view to putting in place a three-year collective agreement.

Seen from the outside the process looks unnecessarily protracted. From the inside, however, I can assure you that we have to allow sufficient time for negotiations and discussions, which in any case have been ongoing between the unions and ABBL in the meantime. Does this mean that points of view that at times are almost diametrically opposed cannot be reconciled? Especially as this year all the parties have agreed to try to put in place a new, streamlined and modernised collective agreement, i.e., more in touch with the reality of working in the banking sector. And yet, as a common union body we once again stressed to ABBL as recently as 3 October this year that we are profoundly attached to the fundamental principles of our common list of claims as regards remuneration and job classifications. Because, although we can constructively pursue different and even innovative models or principles, for the unions there are still crucial elements that must figure in the new collective agreement. For ALEBA it is a straightforward matter: modernising without selling out.

All negotiations are of course a matter of consensus, and that will no doubt be the case again this time round. But for the agreement to succeed it has to be a win-win situation for both the unions and management, especially in the financial sector, which is certainly going through changes but continues to be extremely profitable. If it does not, everyone will be accountable. Once again, just as it did again in June, ALEBA is ready to assume its responsibilities. Assuming responsibilities also entails acting consistently: there is no point signing an agreement and then turning around to bite the hand that feeds you, as did one union by complaining about the “stingy” signature bonus that had been demanded and obtained! That is not acting in the interests of the sector’s employees, and it just shows how out of touch we are with the reality of their daily lives: nowadays, with pay rises becoming increasingly rare, a signature bonus of 400 euros is not to be sniffed at.

The road ahead will certainly be long and rather bumpy. However, I can guarantee you that as far as ALEBA is concerned, we are more determined than ever to put in place a first-rate collective agreement.  That is our commitment as regards the “what”, and it is quite clear. As for “when”, as you have no doubt surmised already, that is quite another story!

Laurent MERTZ
General Secretary of ALEBA
(ALEBA Info 09-10/2017)