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Tough boys don’t cry

Contract employees often face the prejudice that they make so much money that they can manage on their own. And many of them have their own preconceived notions that keep them from using Finansforbundet in Nordea’s (FiN) offers, says Peter Klinke, who has been a union representative at Markets for many years.

28. May 2021
5 min

“Are you employed on a contract? Then you make more than enough money to manage on your own.”

This opinion is very familiar to the employees at Nordea who are not covered by the standard collective agreement; many aspects of their employment are regulated by a contract initiated and formulated by the bank, though. Many contract employees experience that their salaries are stuck at the same level for years, as there are no real pay talks and salaries are not automatically adjusted based on the collective agreement.

They are typically specialists or managers at the bank and their contracts replace the collective agreement when salaries exceed the former salary step 87.

“It’s true that contract employees’ salaries are higher compared to the general salary level in the bank or society at large for that matter. But it’s also true that the salary level generally reflects the value and not least creation of value that the employee represents to the bank,” says Peter Klinke, who has been a union representative at Large Corporates & Institutions (LC&C/Markets) for the past 12 years.

“Contract employees’ salary level generally reflects the value and not least the creation of value that the employee represents to the bank,” says Peter Klinke.

Working week much longer than 37 hours
“Lastly, it’s also true that contract employees most likely work far more than the 37 hours per week that employees covered by the collective agreement do – and they are also affected in case of collective bargaining conflicts, although they are not fully part of the collective agreement. Whether the above is objectively fair or even sensible is of course a matter of opinion, but in any case that’s how things are,” says Peter Klinke.

Over the years he has been involved in numerous cases of dismissals, warnings and not least personal issues among colleagues.

“Particularly in the case of dismissals I see that reality hits my colleagues hard. No matter where we are in the bank’s food chain or who we are as human beings, it generally hurts to be rejected. The dismissed employee is often part of a culture that fosters a self-image of being able to cope with everything without help – for tough boys or girls don’t cry. Consequently, the dismissed colleague may quickly end up in a very lonely place, which I think is really sad,” says Peter Klinke, who often has to listen to questions from frustrated colleagues about where FiN is in all this.

Prejudice and ignorance go both ways
“As a union representative I know my colleagues in FiN as honest and hard-working people who really make a difference and help a lot of members that have encountered problems in relation to the bank or their personal development in general. But I also experience that FiN lacks knowledge, seems reluctant to address issues and makes wrong assumptions about the problems that contract employees face,” says the union representative.

Peter Klinke is convinced that many contract employees also have prejudices that keep them from using FiN’s offers, which he thinks is a great shame.

“Specifically information about the training programmes available through Finanskompetencepuljen should be communicated much better and made more visible so all my colleagues become aware of the opportunities to acquire new knowledge at a high professional level. Many contract employees could also benefit from talks with consultants in FiN to clarify their competencies,” suggests Peter Klinke.


We’re a union for all employees

Dorrit Brandt, president of Finansforbundet in Nordea, acknowledges that FiN has made wrong assumptions about contract employees and promises that FiN will focus more on this group going forward.

Finansforbundet (Financial Services Union Denmark) and Finansforbundet in Nordea (FiN) exist for all employees in the sector regardless of function. And that also includes contract employees, says Dorrit Brandt, president of FiN.

She acknowledges that FiN has largely assumed that contract employees negotiated their contracts on an ongoing basis.

“As Peter Klinke has pointed out, that is not the case. It’s also wrong to assume that an employee with the professional competencies for a job on a contractual basis also has personal negotiating competencies.

The reason why contract employees and FiN have so far had little to do with each other is that only few contract employees approach the union and that there are very few union representatives – that FiN is in close contact with – in areas with contract employees. Dorrit Brandt and her colleagues in FiN therefore only rarely hear from contract employees.

“FiN must focus more on the group of contract employees and make sure that their voices are also heard by the bank’s management. At the same time we always have an ambition to have more union representatives elected in areas with contract employees,” says Dorrit Brandt.

Organisational changes and new salary structure
Historically, areas with contract employees have only sporadically been affected by organisational changes, but that is no longer the case. Now these areas are also affected by staff reductions. Contract employees are also affected by the new salary structure, which Nordea has introduced to comply with the Danish Financial Supervisory Authority’s requirement of more transparent salary systems.

Many have had their contracts changed so a larger part of the salary is fixed and a smaller part is now variable.

The number of contract employees at Nordea is rising. This is a result of a lower contract salary limit in the standard collective agreement and the fact that the bank recruits more external specialists than previously. None of these colleagues must have the slightest doubt that FiN is there for them and that their voices are heard.

Membership offers for contract employees

FiN can help contract employees with the following:

  • Review of employment contract on hiring.
  • Advice on negotiating salary.
  • Advice on size of bonus.
  • Assistance in the assessment of your dismissal in accordance with the rules of the Danish Salaried Employees Act.
  • Co-attendant at meetings concerning dismissal, job discontinuation or other employment law matters.
  • Legal assistance in connection with other employment conditions.
  • Confidential, professional and individual sparring.
  • Career talks with career consultants in FiN.
  • Networks, webinars and business/personal lectures.
  • Access to all events and membership offers from Finansforbundet/FiN.
  • Members’ magazine/newsletters with the latest knowledge/info in the financial services area.

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