New agreement signed in banking

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In July 1999, sectoral trade unions and employers' associations signed a new national collective agreement for Italy's banking industry. The main innovations in the deal concern the redefinition of the area covered by the agreement, the creation of a new "executive middle managers" category, the renewal of the industrial relations system, working time reduction and pay increases.

After five months of talks, the dispute among the banking sector social partners over the renewal of the industry's national collective agreement (IT9903102N) came to an end in July 1999. An agreement was signed on 11 July 1999 by: trade unions affiliated to the main confederations - Fisac-Cgil, Fiba-Cisl and Uib-Uil; independent trade unions - Fabi, Sinfub and Falcri; and the sector's employers' organisations - the Italian Banking Association (Associazione Bancaria Italiana, Abi) and the Italian Saving Bank Association (Associazione delle casse di risparmio italiane, Acri).

The new accord implements the agreement on the banking system signed on 4 June 1997 (IT9706115N) and the framework agreement of 28 February 1998 (IT9803321F). The main innovations of the July 1999 agreement concern:

  • the bargaining area. The development and extension of financial mediation services and of outsourcing has made it necessary to redefine the types of companies to which the banking agreement applies and to identify the activities which can be outsourced. The new agreement will thus now apply to the workers of companies involved in leasing, factoring, consumer credit, management of credit cards, data-processing services and real estate management. The activities which can be outsourced are "portfolio services", self-service and online banking, filing, stocks and supply office management;
  • executive middle managers. A new occupational category of "executive middle managers" (quadri direttivi) is established. There will be four pay levels for this category;
  • working time. Weekly working hours will be reduced by 30 minutes, from 37.5 hours to 37. Workers will be able to opt to keep the old working hours and to save the 30 minutes of weekly reduction in a "working time account" (banca delle ore), or to use this time for personal reasons. In cases of shiftwork or of work performed on four or six days of the week, employees' weekly working time will be reduced by 1.5 hours (to 36 hours). During the periods of most intense activity during the year, it will be possible to introduce longer weekly working hours of between 40 and 48 hours, for no more than four months. In this event, there will be compensatory periods with reduced weekly working hours;
  • "working time accounts". These accounts can be used to save overtime hours worked by employees. The maximum overtime per employee is 150 hours per year, of which 50 hours will compulsorily compensated with time off, 50 hours will be recovered through the working time account mechanism or paid as overtime, and 50 will be paid as overtime work;
  • flexible working time and opening hours. New flexible hours, along with multi-period working time schedules, will be decided by companies and communicated to workplace employee representative bodies (Rsu s), which will negotiate the distribution of the working time within 15 days;
  • flexibility in recruitment. The agreement provides for the introduction of fixed-term contracts and for the use of temporary agency work - with employment on such contracts not to exceed 10% and 5% of employment on open-ended contracts in the company respectively. Furthermore, the agreement regulates telework which will take the form of "subordinate", "semi-subordinate" or independent employment;
  • training. The agreement provides for employees to undergo paid vocational training courses of 50 hours per year. The contents of the courses will be defined every year in company-level meetings;
  • industrial relations. The agreement provides for the establishment of a "joint observatory on the transformation of the sector" and of a national health and safety committee;
  • company bargaining. This level of bargaining will deal with performance-related pay, safety and the working environment. Every year, company management and trade union representatives will meet to assess employment trends, vocational training activities and the company's organisation;
  • pay. Wages will be increased in stages from 1 October 1999 to 1 February 2001 by around ITL 100,000 per month. The pay system will change, with 13 monthly payments instead of 14 (the amount of money equivalent to 14 payments will be redistributed on 13 monthly payments); and
  • seniority promotions. These will take place every three years rather than every two years, as at present.

The president of the Abi employers' organisation said that the "agreement is well-balanced and modern and reduces labour costs to European levels thanks to the increase in flexibility". On the trade union side, Nicoletta Rocchi of Fisac-Cgil, Eligio Boni of Fiba-Cisl and Gianfranco Steffani of Fabi considered the agreement a guarantee for workers against the future reorganisation of the banking system.

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