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Finansforbundet is holding an extraordinary national congress

On 20 April, an extraordinary national congress will decide whether Finansforbundet’s strategic cooperation agreement with FH will be replaced with an application for membership. The Executive Committee recommends a yes vote

30. Mar 2022
7 min
Af Kristian Lind
kl@finansforbundet.dk

For almost a year and a half, Finansforbundet has had a formalised strategic cooperation with the Danish Trade Union Confederation (Fagbevægelsens Hovedorganisation, FH).

An extraordinary national congress on 20 April will debate and decide whether the cooperation will turn into an application for genuine membership.

‘FH is a strong organisation and a relationship we need if we are to make a difference in terms of work environment, further and continuing education, digitalisation and other areas where we need to best serve the interests of our members. Therefore, we are holding an extraordinary national congress on 20 April where the executive committee recommends that we join FH. It is the delegates who will make the final decision, but our recommendation to join FH is clear.

We believe that community and cooperation is the way to get results. There is a clear common interest between us and FH that will strengthen our work for our members, and it is part of our purpose to form the relationships that can make a difference. A membership in FH is simply the solution that ultimately provides the most value and influence for our members’, says Kent Petersen, President of Finansforbundet.

The National Congress takes place in Copenhagen.

You will of course be able to get updated information at finansforbundet.dk after the congress. To start with, we have collected answers to a few of the key questions about what a trade union confederation really is – and what membership could mean for Finansforbundet.

Get answers to the 10 most important questions about Finansforbundet and FH

What is the membership meant to actually contribute to?

The membership strengthens Finansforbundet’s political influence in areas that are relevant to our members.

This applies, for example, to legislation in digitalisation and work environment, where we can make agreements directly with employers, but where the frameworks come from political groups nationally and internationally.

Finansforbundet has also historically been a member of a trade union confederation, because the community has an impact when it comes to promoting the interests of our members through access to political influence, knowledge and collective action throughout the trade union movement.

How will the membership affect the members and delegates?

To promote the interests of our members, Finansforbundet seeks influence where we can make a difference.

There are many places where we can more directly influence the conditions in the sector, but a lot of legislation does not specifically have to do with the financial sector, and it is much more difficult for us to make an impact.

The membership will thus make a difference in the long run – but as a member you will not notice it in your daily life right away.
We are of course still the same independent organisation with the same basic positions.

Does the cooperation mean that we have to think and express the same as FH?

No. We are completely our own organisation – and will continue to be – even if we join FH.
In some areas, we will have a greater impact because we can bring up topics and issues through FH.

The membership does not fundamentally change the fact that we are Finansforbundet, and we have the positions we have.

Does a membership in FH affect our right to enter into and negotiate collective agreements?

No. When we become a member of FH, we will still maintain our negotiating rights with regard to FA and entering collective agreements in the financial sector.

FH does not negotiate collective agreements for its member organisations. Nor will a membership restrict or limit Finansforbundet or the local unions’ free autonomy.

What about independence from party politics?

Finansforbundet always works independent of party politics, but seeks political influence to make a difference for our members.

FH is also independent of party politics. In FH’s articles of association, it is stated under ‘Purpose and values’ in § 2: ‘FH brings together Denmark’s trade unions to create a society of solidarity and democracy with jobs and education for all, quality of welfare and a good work life. FH is independent of party politics.’

Finansforbundet said no to the merger not very long ago. What has changed between then and now?

With regard to the merger between FTF and LO, we chose to stay outside that, because we found it hard to see ourselves in the structure of the trade union confederation as it was at the time.

The situation is different now in that FH has a very strong position as a large employee organisation in a great number of areas with strong political influence.

FH also looks different today than when it was outlined back in 2018.

What is the actual difference between a cooperation agreement – as there currently is between Finansforbundet and FH – and a membership?

The strategic cooperation in itself grants the right to listen and speak but does give not provide any formal influence on decisions.

The agreement has ensured cooperation on key agendas but not more formal political influence in FH. Actual political influence comes with membership.

What does a trade union confederation actually do?

FH is an umbrella organisation for 64 trade unions with a total of approximately 1.3 million members.

The cooperation essentially has to do with improving working conditions in Danish workplaces by supporting member organisations in various areas and representing employees in tripartite negotiations.

There is also ongoing political work for influence: FH is by far the strongest trade union confederation with the most privileged access to politicians when it comes to promoting the interests of employees in a broad sense.

The same confederation structure exists on the employer side, and the confederations play a crucial role in the function of the Danish model, the organisation of the Danish labour market and major issues surrounding it.

Why is the work of the trade union confederation relevant to us and our members?

In general: Because the community and cooperation provides better opportunities for promoting the interests of the members.

There are many places where we in Finansforbundet can influence the conditions in the sector, but a lot of legislation does not specifically have to do with the financial sector, and it is more difficult for us to make an impact here.

When it comes to, e.g. working from home – and the working environment legislation that applies – or, e.g. digitalisation, we can only agree on framework conditions in the sector a little bit at a time.

Does FH handle cases that are relevant to us?

Finansforbundet works to promote the interests of our members, including within the area of social challenges such as education, employment, digitalisation and job satisfaction.

FH has a greater focus on digitalisation and further and continuing education throughout the entire labour market. There are also important agendas for our members’ mental well-being, including new rules for working from home and a focus on the physical work environment.