We ARE connecting members!
Never before have so many participated in Finansforbundet in Nordea’s Annual General Meeting (AGM). At this year's AGM, the theme was ‘Connecting members and challenging decisions’, and the night was filled with contested elections, political statements, debate and beer tasting
Approximately 900 participants took part in the AGM last Friday. Six hundred participated online throughout the country, and 300 had found their way to Crowne Plaza in Ørestad, where inviting cold tapas like servings and a warm welcome from the board were ready to be served.
Although there were big smiles, hugs and firm handshakes everywhere, there was also some trepidation – many of the participants were preoccupied with the fact that this year there were contested elections for the board.
Fantastically good work is honoured
Before this, it was time for the board’s annual report. Dorrit Brandt, president of Finansforbundet in Nordea (FiN), started her part of the report by talking about the new collective agreement, which right now is out for voting among Finansforbundet’s members. It has been created during a situation with war in Ukraine and financial uncertainty.
“But it was difficult for the employers to remain pessimistic while historically good financial reports were landing, including in our own bank. The negotiated collective agreement is a recognition of fantastically good work and an attempt to try to stop the decrease in real wages,” she said and recommended voting yes.
This week, the negotiation of Nordea’s own company agreement is starting, and Dorrit Brandt promised to emphasise a demand for general salary rises.
The AGM started with everybody singing a song written by FiN's union representatives in 2019
Not in the management’s pocket
During her report, she said that she now and then heard somebody asking if FiN’s board is in the management’s pocket:
“I am – and we are – not! We make great efforts to protect the arm's-length principle and constantly balance between disagreeing and creating results - standing outside the door or sitting down at the table. There is a big difference between collaborating and being 'in somebody’s pocket' - collaboration is not the same as agreement," emphasized Dorrit Brandt.
It is important for FiN to ensure that the onboarding processes for new employees improve, in particular the responsibility for implementation. Because at present there are examples of it taking many days to get the necessary IT access, get an admittance card, become a customer in the Employee Bank and get paid one’s salary. We have to ensure that new colleagues feel welcome from day one.
It matters to reach out when problems occur. One example is the faulty system Zalaris. Here, FiN for a long time has pointed out errors in both numbers and content.
“We are happy to say that we have been presented with initiatives that we have trust in, and we hope that you over time will experience fewer errors and also win back trust in the system, which handles the vast majority of transactions without problems,” said Dorrit Brandt.
It also matters to reach out to the local union representative if you need individual help, and the advisors in FiN’s office have helped at least 325 members and guided many union representatives in their local dialogues.
Well-being taken seriously
Many of the inquiries are about well-being. As FiN’s vice president Mette Balck Mejlby could report in her part of the annual report, Finansforbundet’s newest well-being survey shows that stress and high work pace are on the rise.
“More than a quarter of the respondents say that they feel stressed at work either all the time or often. This number went down during Covid-19, but unfortunately the level is back to pre-Covid.”
Only half of these respondents answered that they had talked with their manager about it. Because of this, FiN will put the topic on the agenda in the national works council and discuss it with the Danish management.
“We have agreed with the management that we together will continue working with a common Internal Talk in Nordea about how the well-being and mental peace of mind can be increased in Nordea,” she said and promised to continue the dialogue about the topic. A webinar on well-being and prevention is also on its way to the union representatives.
The well-being survey also shows that Nordea has a higher flexibility in relation to working at home than the rest of the sector. More than 60 percent experience it to a large extent as an advantage.
"But at the same time, it is important to note that 40 percent miss being with colleagues. It can be a hard nut to crack.”
There is also a dialogue with the management about this - on the whole, there are many conversations going on with the management. One of the others is about the bank's trust in its employees. Many decisions are top down, and Mette Balck Mejlby strongly encouraged the bank to show more trust in the managers and employees: Set the mandate free through dialogue in order to find solutions that fit locally - 'One size doesn't fit all'.
"Nordea as 'The employer of choice in the financial sector’. It is one of Nordea's strategies for 2025, which suits us well, and to which we would like to contribute. This requires, among other things, opportunities to be able to develop, to feel part of a strong community and to be recognized and appreciated for who you are and what you do," underlined Mette Balck Mejlby.
Conflict notification only option
Among the guests in the large hall was also the vice president of Finansforbundet, Steen Lund Olsen, who from the brightly lit stage – the lights were set so that the participants around the country got sharp images live – talked about the background to the conflict notification that was submitted during the collective agreement negotiations.
The employers' plan was miles away from what was acceptable, he explained. According to the employers, several groups should be written out of the collective agreement:
"You almost sat and thought: Who is actually still within the collective agreement?"
But after a trip to the Conciliation Board, progress was made in the negotiations, and the vice president referred to the agreement as "pretty good" and recommended a yes.
He also talked about Finansforbundet's wide range of efforts in the area of diversity and equality and stated that some companies have come a long way, while others have just started:
"But let's welcome the burgeoning initiatives that translate speeches into real action".
There is also something to fight for in the area of employment, he stated. There are around 1,500 unemployed finance employees, even though the employment rate in Denmark is breaking all records:
"Of the 1,500 unemployed, well over half have 55 or more candles on their birthday cake. That is food for thought."
There was also food for thought before the break, when a debate was held between the participants at the tables.
New candidate won
When it became time for contested elections, where five people ran for four of the board seats that were up for election, nerves were on edge.
As the uncontested elected president Dorrit Brandt said, it is very special and vulnerable to be at a job interview in front of almost 900 people.
The candidates took turns delivering their election speeches and the new candidate, the previous first deputy Natascha Bødker Feodor Nielsen, found it difficult to stand still while she waited her turn.
She received the second-highest number of votes among those elected, and Pierre Christensen, who has been part of FiN’s board for almost two years, did not obtain re-election and was instead elected as first deputy.
Kasper Skovgaard Pedersen, Mette Balck Mejlby and Mona Svan were all re-elected.
The newly elected board and its deputies: At the back from the left: The board members Mona Svan, Louise Naur (maternaty leave), Kasper Skovgaard Pedersen, Mette Balck Mejlby (vice president), Dorrit Brandt (president), Ole Lund Jensen, Natascha Bødker Feodor Nielsen and Louise Have Lund. At the bottom Katja Larsen with the two deputies on her sides: Second deputy Jeppe Lermark Pieszak to the left og first deputy Pierre Christensen to the right.
When the election was over and president Dorrit Brandt had summarized the Annual General Meeting and concluded: "We ARE connecting members!", there was time to enjoy a handful of beers.
They were presented with great emotion by the beer enthusiast Carsten Berthelsen - also known from Natholdet's Christmas calendar (broadcasted by the TV channel TV2).
He referred to the fermentation process as 'the miracle of life' and toasted diligently with both the audience and those who followed virtually, who had been sent the bottles. The beers’ content quickly left its mark on the atmosphere, because it was five beers which contained increasingly higher percentages of alcohol.
Thus, the event ended in a pleasant and relaxed atmosphere.
More about the AGM
We recommend you to also read this article from Finansforbundet in Nordea's AGM 2023: