Agreement on employability and employment security at ABN Amro

Download article in original language : NL9808196NNL.DOC

Under a deal reached in August 1998, employees at the ABN Amro bank in the Netherlands will receive an employment guarantee if they agree to a work and training plan during negotiations with their departmental heads.

The 33,000 people employed on an open-ended basis at the ABN Amro bank will receive an employment guarantee until 1 August 2001 if they agree to a work and training plan during negotiations with their departmental heads. ABN Amro and the four banking sector trade unions reached agreement on this so-called "social statute" on 5 August 1998. The statute ends a period characterised by disputes between the bank and the unions (NL9708127N).

According to the statute, employees will improve their employability by following training courses. If those employed on an open-ended basis are prepared to rotate jobs within reasonable limits, they will receive an employment guarantee, preferably internally but otherwise externally. Course fees and time spent on training and education will be fully compensated.

The statute replaces the company's eight-year old redundancy programme. Compared with this programme, the statute increases the leeway for downward mobility. From now on, the bank may offer employees jobs of up to two grades below their present positions. Employees will maintain their present pay levels and, for a period of three years, will also continue to enjoy any accompanying pay increases.

The circumstances underlying the statute relate to the fact that the total number of employees at ABN Amro continues to grow, while the number of less-skilled jobs decreases. The statute should help to solve this qualitative imbalance to some extent. Other ways to solve this problem include the establishment of so-called group mobility centres, which serve as a kind of internal employment office. In addition to such centres, ABN Amro has set up mobility units. These units can be compared with internal employment agencies, and now employ some 500 workers.

At the end of June, however, negotiations around the statute seemed set to fail, because ABN Amro refused to grant employment guarantees. Negotiations on employability at other companies also appeared to stagnate (NL9801157N). According to a spokesperson for the bank, the fact that ABN Amro changed its position can be attributed largely to the increasingly tight labour market.

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