The financial sector needs stability, substance and good collective agreements to face current and future challenges. This was the consensus and common conclusion following the meeting between OGBL Finance Sector and the Minister of Labor, which took place on June 27.
A delegation from OGBL Finance Sector, led by Sylvie Reuter and Serge Schimoff, was received on June 27, 2023 by the Minister of Labor, Georges Engel, to discuss the current situation and future of the financial sector.
The meeting was organized at the request of OGBL, with the aim of drawing the Minister’s attention to various dysfunctions in the financial sector, and to take a joint look at the future. At the start of the discussions, Central Secretary Sylvie Reuter drew attention to the fact that the two sectoral collective agreements in the financial sector (banking and insurance) expire again this year.
Increasing collective agreement coverage
Both speakers agreed on the importance of collective agreements, especially in a sector like finance, which is partly run by large international groups from abroad. In addition, the Minister of Labor underlined and indicated the objective that at national level, at least 80% of workers should be covered by a collective agreement.
With regard to the coverage of the two sectoral collective agreements in the financial sector, Sylvie Reuter drew attention to the fact that both have the problem of no longer applying to more than a fraction of bank or insurance employees. Many employees are what are known as “cadres supérieurs” (senior managers), but do not meet the conditions in force in Luxembourg and fall outside the scope of the collective agreement.
In addition, almost all employees in the financial sector who do not work for a bank or insurance company are not covered by a collective agreement. The problem here is that there appears to be no employers’ federation on the employers’ side to negotiate a collective agreement.
Both delegations emphasized the importance of the financial sector to the Luxembourg economy and stressed that good working conditions are essential to Luxembourg’s attractiveness as a business location.
Reducing working hours, a favorite of the Minister and OGBL
Sylvie Reuter emphasized that when it comes to working hours, OGBL is not at all inflexible. OGBL is aware that atypical working hours are commonplace in the financial sector. However, it points out that banks continue to work more and more overtime, but that this is not legally recorded. Likewise, it is currently common practice for workers sent on assignment abroad to do this through their teleworking quota, instead of equipping workers through a posting contract, as provided for under labor law. In addition, working hours for on-call duty must be regulated in the collective agreement.
Training throughout the career
There was also consensus that continuing education and retraining are essential key elements for today’s and tomorrow’s world of digital finance. “Reskilling” and “Upskilling” are the watchwords of the future. For OGBL, it was important to emphasize that by developing the individual right to training, employees will be better prepared for new realities, digital upheavals and ongoing restructuring dictated for purely strategic reasons.
Equal social dialogue within companies
Indeed, mergers, demergers and transfers heavily affect the financial sector. OGBL has complained that many international groups fail to comply with Luxembourg legislation in this respect. For example, when jobs are cut following a merger, social plans are bypassed by “salami tactics”. Similarly, employees and staff delegation of banks such as RBC, CACEIS, Crédit Suisse and UBS are currently left in the dark about their professional future for the coming year. Social dialogue between management and staff delegation is not working, or is even paralyzed, to the detriment of employees’ health. Here too, improvements are needed.
Working conditions and wages must be improved, and dysfunctions eliminated, if the Luxembourg financial sector is not to lose any more of its attractiveness.
Substance and good collective agreements are needed to meet current and future challenges
Particularly as the collective agreement for banks has lost much of its substance in recent years, making it difficult to attract or retain employees and talents in this sector, which is so important for Luxembourg.
The financial sector therefore faces major challenges in becoming more attractive, both for current employees and for future talents.
The Minister of Labor also took the opportunity to talk about the role of the financial sector, and in particular the work done by employees during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Luxembourg’s strong economic system, with the financial sector at its heart, and its more than 30,000 employees made a vital contribution to Luxembourg’s success in overcoming the pandemic and its economic consequences.
Substance and solid collective agreements are needed to face the current and future challenges of the financial sector in Luxembourg.
Sectoral collective agreements in the financial sector expire this year, and it is necessary to remedy their limited coverage for employees, particularly managers.
Good working conditions, including regulation of working hours and the need for retraining and further training, are essential to Luxembourg’s attractiveness as a financial center.
Social dialogue between management and representatives in banks needs to be improved, as concerns about job security and compliance with Luxembourg laws arise during mergers, acquisitions or restructuring.
Participating in this meeting:
Serge Schimoff, Sylvie Reuter, Angélique Lazzara, Ben Soisson OGBL Finance Sector
Francis Capitani, BGL
Claude Steffen, BIL
Calogero GALLETTA, Caceis Investor Services