Biography and testimonies in tribute to Félix Walisch
On September 5th 2021 our colleague and friend Félix Walisch passed away, leaving behind him almost 40 years of trade union history with ALEBA.
Félix joined ALEBA in December 1979. At that time, he was working at Bank of Credit and Commerce International (BCCI) where he was elected as a staff representative. He joined the ALEBA Board in 1983. After the closure of the bank and a move to another company, he was hired by the then President Marc Glesener in the mid-1990s.
His negotiating skills soon became apparent in all discussions. He never gave up when it came to defending the interests of employees of the financial sector. Skillful and always showing great calm, he knew how to lead talks towards his objectives in order to obtain a large majority.
A man of conviction, a mentor and a revealer for many of us, he had trade unionism in his blood and helped to improve working conditions of thousands of people, members and delegates alike, not only during his years of service, but also long after his well-deserved retirement.
Unanimously respected by all parties around the table, as much for his professional qualities as for his human values, he will never have left anyone indifferent and will have definitively marked the history of Luxembourg trade unionism.
As the face of ALEBA, he will forever remain a pillar of our organization and an example to follow for all those who are committed to defending the interests of employees day in and day out.
ALEBA as we know it today is in his own image.
In his honor, the large ALEBA meeting room will be renamed “Félix Walisch Room”.
Here is the testimony of ALEBA’s President, Roberto Mendolia
“I was 30 years old in 2003 when I first met him. It didn’t take him long to convince me to become a staff representative. His speech was so simple, so calm, so composed… far from all this radical and violent trade unionism that some people make their hobbyhorse. He came with social dialogue, in the name of the same law. As simple as that.
In the adversity of the battles, I had to wage against formidable adversaries, he was always behind me, my invisible shield. He often ended his days by calling me, and we talked for hours and hours.
There was also the first social plan in which I saw him working: once he stood up and spoke, no one dared to interrupt him, he was the master of the place, equally calm, composed, incisive, direct, sure… impressive charisma, he put everyone in agreement. He never left anyone indifferent!
One day, I asked him to teach me the job. He replied: “Calm down first. I will never be able to teach you anything if you talk before you think, or if you feel obliged to respond to all the attacks against you. He calmed me down when I was overwhelmed by emotion. He taught me silence, patience, …. with the heart that goes with it. Because you need a heart to do this job.
To the heart, from which he taught me never to stray, he showed me the path of determination, perseverance, loyalty and respect towards all, friends and enemies alike. Many will recognize themselves here, for I was not his only pupil. He was truly our Spiritual Father.
It was through ALEBA that he passed on these true universal values, the true messages of life to all those who had the chance to meet him one day. For all of us young delegates, he was not only the word of ALEBA, but he was also its face. For us the ALEBA was Félix, and Félix was the ALEBA.
He also taught us to be leaders. But not the leaders you think. No. He showed us the way to finally lead our own lives. Let us first become leaders of ourselves before we can lead others, and finally be able to pass on these universal values ourselves. In this way he inhibited our fears and turned them into our strength.
Probably because Félix felt that I was finally ready, I owe him my arrival at ALEBA’s management. Since the day I told him I was accepting this role, he has never stopped telling me “semper sursum”, always standing up, always faithful, always higher, always better. Whoever stops his development starts his death.
Semper sursum is and will remain the motto of ALEBA, Félix it is up to us to keep alive the values that you passed on to us, to keep ALEBA alive and growing so that we can pass them on again and again to the greatest number of people, in your memory, in the memory of all those who fight for the true trade union cause, for the true well-being of all.
We have also received some testimonies from our delegates close to Félix:
Jochem Hagen (VP Bank)
I started my professional life in Luxembourg on 1st January 1991. I became a union member of the OGBL in 1992 because a colleague recruited me. The biggest problem I had with OGBL was that almost all communication was in French, so I switched to ALEBA in about 1993. Félix helped me with this. Even then he taught me the basics of trade union life.
Since around 1998 when I became a full member of the works council, he tried to get in touch with me. (I was a substitute member from 1993 to 1998). Around 2004, it was also Félix who proposed to get member of the board. Around 2003, Félix noticed that I was helping Luxembourg and German cross-border commuters with their tax returns as a “hobby”. When he knew this, he often put ALEBA members in touch with me, so that I helped them as well with their tax declaration.
Félix also convinced me several times to offer Tax trainings on behalf of ALEBA. It was also him who always made sure that the German works council members in particular felt “at home” within ALEBA. He was particularly helpful to me as chair of the HSBC Trinkaus works council during the social contract negotiations in 2013 and as well during the transition of the works council office, to the new employer, VP Bank. At VP Bank, he was the one who managed giving me valuable tips so that I became a proper works council member again at VP Bank (which is not evident after a partial takeover). His tips also helped me being elected as first chairman at VP Bank again in 2019. Félix always had an open ear and took the needed time when necessary.
I will always have fond memories of Félix!
Ursula Koch (DZ PRIVATBANK S.A. / IPConcept (Luxemburg) S.A).
We have known Félix in our company as the ALEBA representative for at least 20 years.
He was the link between the president/administration and the delegates, was always approachable in case of individual problems, but also in particular with general questions regarding trade union work. His contacts in Luxembourg and in politics were always useful to ALEBA, and Félix was always committed with conviction and sensitivity to employees who were affected by their employer’s personnel measures.
It should be emphasized that he has always been very concerned about the German cross-border workers, who make up the largest proportion of our staff. In addition to translations of French texts at trade union meetings, he always introduced new delegates to each other. This also led to the founding of the “AK der Betriebsräte deutsche Banken”, which has since then maintained a lively fruitful exchange. I think this is a visible legacy of Félix and will continue as long as there are German-speaking institutes.
In particular, during the last election, we worked together with Félix to bring about the sensible merger of the works councils of DZ PRIVATBANK S.A. and IPConcept (Luxemburg) S.A. on behalf of our bank. Here his contacts and knowledge of Luxembourg law came to our aid.
In addition to trade union experience and charisma, Félix has always been a philanthropist who has sacrificially worked for the community and for others. We will greatly miss this honorable colleague and keep him in good memory.
Colette Weber (Foyer)
I will always keep Félix in good memories, mainly as trainer of ALEBA. He always mentioned to transpose his knowledge with enthusiasm to the training participants.
Quite unusual during a training, but highly appreciated, Félix used the lunch break for a common walk in the park of the city. He had a very healthy way of living, always having tea and often his own food with him.
He mainly travelled by train, even after a long ALEBA event, he often went be feet to the main station, catching up the last train going to the North of Luxembourg.
In his role of coordinator during the last social elections, he gave us a lot of confidence with his knowledge and experience.
It’s a pity that he had leave this world so early, we will miss him for a long time.
Michael Zeitler (Deutsche Bank Luxembourg)
Félix was “the” man at ALEBA who for many years paved the way for colleagues from Deutsche Bank Luxembourg S.A. to join ALEBA, established contacts with ALEBA officers and other members.
He was the right contact person for all questions and problems, who did not hide his opinion, always gave good advice and recommendations, and also established contacts with other people who knew a matter particularly well. You could really see his very in-depth knowledge and confidence in all the relevant topics of employment law.
I personally got to know Félix not only as the ALEBA face and figurehead par excellence, but as a generous person with firm basic principles and as a real friend with whom you could talk about anything.
We will miss him very much.
Tamara Büsch (JPMorgan Asset Mangement)
We were very saddened to learn that Félix Walisch unfortunately passed away on September 5th, 2021. Félix was always a competent contact person for us, who was always ready to help.
In all the years of excellent cooperation, we not only got to know Félix as an experienced expert of the ALEBA, but also gained him as a friend.
We will remember Félix as a unique person who stood by us with great expertise even in difficult times due to staff reductions. His way of dealing with people was highly appreciated not only by us but also by the employer.
We will always remember Félix. His social commitment and responsible actions will always be a role model for us.
Jochen Micket (HCOB Securities S.A).
We have known Félix as an always friendly person who always had an open ear for our concerns. In 2010 and 2012, he accompanied us in our social plan negotiations and contributed to their success with his calm and persistent manner. He always had the interests of the employees in mind. We still benefit from his support and recommendations today! We will keep Félix in grateful memory.
Ingo Repplinger (Hauck&Aufhäuser)
Behind every success, and also behind the one of ALEBA, there are colleagues who are committed, who are courageous and who believe in joint assertiveness. Félix has made such a significant contribution to the success of our union – we are successful for only one reason: because we join together voluntarily and because we act in solidarity. Not by decree – but by conviction. This conviction and his solidarity skills, which Félix had like no other, also helped our works council, our company, but also many individual colleagues in difficult times. We would especially like to thank him for his commitment in setting up the “Working Group of German Banks”, a project which was very close to his heart. We will miss you very much as a trade unionist but also as a person and a valued colleague.
Sabine Thömmes (European Depositary Bank SA)
Even though we did not work directly with Félix, we will always remember his calmness and composure. He was a balancing pole in all meetings of the staff representatives of German banks. We will miss him.