Renewal of banking sector’s national collective agreement

The Italian banking sector’s trade unions and employer associations signed a new National Collective Agreement for 340,000 workers on 19 January 2012. The previous agreement had expired more than a year before. However, the new agreement was hailed as a great success by both employers and unions. Despite the profound socioeconomic difficulties that Italy faces, the new agreement defends employment levels and working hours and also protects salaries from inflation.

Agreement reached without conflict

The global financial crisis has put the Italian banking sector under increasing pressure. A new sectoral National Collective Agreement (NCA) to replace the one that had expired in December 2010 was, however, concluded quite quickly and without conflict. The new agreement was reached on 19 January 2012 between the Italian Banking Association (ABI) on behalf of the employers and, for the workers, by:

  • the Italian Federation of Insurance and Credit Workers’ Unions (FISAC-CGIL);
  • the Italian Banking and Insurance Workers Federation (FIBA-CISL);
  • the Union of Italian Credit, Collection and Insurance Workers (UILCA-U);
  • the Independent Federation of Italian Banking Workers (FABI);
  • the General Union of Credit Workers (UGL CREDITO);
  • the National Trade Union Association for credit, financial and banking management staff (DIRCREDITO);
  • the National Federation of Independent Trade Unions – Credit, Finance and Insurance Personnel (SINFUB).

Principal aspects of the agreement

The new agreement contains six key measures.

  • An Employment Fund will be set up over the next five years. It will be controlled by the Bilateral National Agency for Credit Sector Education (Enbicredito), which aims to sustain employment and reduce costs for enterprises. The fund will be financed by taxes of one day’s pay for employees, professional and managerial staff, and 4% of the fixed pay of managers. For the first four years, newly hired workers on open-ended contracts will be paid 18% less than the current salary level. The ABI estimates that this initiative will make it possible to hire 6,500 workers each year over the next five years.
  • The previous NCA contained a supplementary agreement for a possible working week of 40 hours instead of 37.5 and a 20% salary reduction for financial institutions in severe financial difficulties, although it was not called upon. The new agreement contains the same provision and enterprises will be able to use it to employ staff for tasks previously outsourced to enterprises that do not apply the banking NCA. However, the working hours and salary of the people hired under this part of the agreement will be brought into line with the standard banking NCA within four years.
  • Pay in the sector will increase by an average of €170 per year from June for three years. Seniority increases will be blocked for 18 months.
  • Banks will have new working hours, opening from 08.00 to 22.00, Monday to Friday; previously they closed at 17.00. Company-level bargaining will settle how the new hours are to be covered. If an agreement at company level is not reached, the enterprise will be able to impose a staffing solution without agreement for the hours up to 20.00, but agreement with employee representatives will be necessary from 20.00 to 22.00.
  • A joint body will be set up to: analyse and define the classification of personnel; regulate apprenticeships; coordinate new working hours at national level; adopt initiatives concerning equal opportunities and the reconciliation of private and professional life; reexamine the role of workers’ representatives in health and safety, and to simplify the elements of the national agreement.
  • A joint national body will also be set up to analyse productivity trends following the introduction of new working hours.

Reactions

Lando Maria Sileoni, General Secretary of FABI, the biggest banking trade union, believes that despite being negotiated in a difficult financial climate, the agreement ‘protects individual and collective rights, defends employment levels and protects salary levels from inflation’.

In spite of sharp differences within FISAC-CGIL, the union’s members approved the agreement by a narrow 52.8% majority. The General Secretary of FISAC, Agostino Megale, considers it positive that the agreement was renewed rather quickly despite the seriousness of the financial crisis.

Giuseppe Gallo, General Secretary of FIBA-CISL, has declared himself satisfied with the innovations of the NCA, while Massimo Masi, General Secretary of UILCA, has said he recognises the importance of positive employment prospects.

Francesco Micheli, President of ABI’s Committee for Trade Union and Labour Affairs, says that the partners have ‘found a new equilibrium, through the adoption of original and innovative solutions which can sustain employment levels’.

Vilma Rinolfi, Cesos

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