Part 3: Work hours beyond the digital transition
Employers increasingly request 24/7 work hours, seven days a week, reachability and availability from their employees due to what they call changing customer demands caused by digitalization. A closer look, however, shows that employers’ analysis of current customer demands may be faulty. Rainer Heino, National Officer at Trade Union PRO, raises questions on the role of the finance sector in society with a recent example of collective bargaining after the digital transition in the finnish finance sector.
This week NFU publishes expert insights to the disruptive forces of the digital transition in the nordic finance sector written by seven trade union representatives in policy, politics and research. Each opinion piece is a written summary of a presentation given at the NFU Policy Affairs Forum on the 9-10th of April 2018.
As customers get used to 24/7 financial services in the increasingly digitalized economy, not only online but also at the physical workplace. What kind of demands can employers make on employees’ availability and work hours? The negotiations on a new collective agreement (CA) in Finland began in October 2017. And a new CA was not successfully reached until March this year, after months of long and difficult negotiations. The new CA was agreed on in the finance sector after several settlement proposals by the national conciliator, and after two industrial actions in December 2017 and January 2018.
Photo: Heikki Jokinen
That the old CA ended in November 2017 meant that the financial service sector was out of an agreement for several months. Possibly jeopardizing employees well-being and working conditions. The deadlock had largely been the result of a dispute on weekend work. In the debate the employers had argued that customers demand financial services on weekends. Yet, only 7% of customers de facto expressed an interest in bank services on the weekends in an independent national survey. Arguably customers’ interest in digital services has been confused with a demand for customer facing staff services. Despite this, the employers showed little interest to go back on their demand for weekend work.
Conversely, 43% of the Trade Union PRO’s members said in a survey that they are willing to work weekends. This subsequently gave little foundation for PRO to push the issue of work hours further. In turn leading to a compromise where weekend work mainly will be agreed upon in local negotiations. Henceforth, the employer must also give detailed proposals of weekend work to the shop steward well in advance. And weekend work cannot be required from an employee without first being up for voluntary grab by all employees. Additionally, work on a Saturday gives a 100% increase, and work on a Sunday gives a 150% increase in salary.
Trade union PRO has throughout the negotiations stressed that weekend work must be voluntary and take the employee’s personal life in to account. Something that successfully is respected in the new agreement. Moreover, throughout the negotiations the NFU and the NFU affiliated unions have supported Trade union PRO with statements of solidarity and information sharing.
This is a written summary of a presentation given by Rainer Heino, National Officer at Trade Union PRO, on the 9-10th of April 2018 at the NFU Policy Affairs Forum. An event for secretariat staff with expertise in, or with a role connected to, sectorial and industry policy affairs. The overarching theme was: the disruptive impact of the fourth industrialization on the financial service sector. The purpose of the forum was to provide participants with the chance to exchange expertise and experiences on key finance sector topics while stimulating future cooperation and coordination on sectoral policy issues. Several interesting proposals on how to follow up and improve coordination to increase the effect of shared policy work were proposed by the participants as a result.
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