UNI Europa Finance & European banks commit to end sales pressure on employees

Thursday 7 May 2020

In an important step towards ensuring the provision of reliable and sustainable financial services, a joint declaration has today been signed by UNI Europa Finance and Europe’s bank sector employers.

Entitled ‘Employment Aspects Of Providing Financial Services Including Guidance’, the declaration was jointly signed by the European banking sector social partners – UNI Europa Finance for workers, and the Banking Committee for European Social Affairs of the European Banking Federation (EBF BCESA), the European Savings and Retail Banking Group (ESBG), and the European Association of Cooperative Banks (EACB) for the employers.

As countries begin to prepare for the post-Covid-19 period and its impact on the European and global economies’ long-term social and economic development, it is a vital time to lay the foundations of a sustainable finance approach. Crucially, the joint declaration includes guidance on personalised advice to customers, a key issue for unions.

The irresponsible sale of financial products by banks intent on exceeding their performance targets at any cost has blighted the finance industry for many years and was one of the prime causes of the 2008 global financial crisis. This led to the launch of UNI Finance’s ‘Sales vs Advice’ campaign to demand an end to the increasing pressures put on finance sector employees to sell products irrespective of customers’ needs or wishes, and culminating in our ‘Model Charter on Responsible Sales of Financial Products’, published in 2010 (see here for the Charter in EN, FR, DE & ES).

Over the subsequent decade, UNI Finance’s campaign and charter have been used by our affiliates in several finance sector multinationals as models for their own agreements and protocols on this issue. The Italian unions went even further by signing a national sectoral agreement on responsible sales, which was then inserted into the latest national sectoral collective agreement, signed in December 2019.

“This joint declaration signals an important guarantee from the European banking employers to work together with the trade unions in social dialogue in order to ensure a healthy working environment for the sector’s workers, enhance visibility of the crucial role they play and strengthen the public’s trust in the banking industry,” said Michael Budolfsen, President of UNI Europa Finance.

“Sales pressure is a major issue affecting bank workers in their everyday work, where they are often subjected to a cascade of mounting pressure and control to reach performance targets from the CEO down to the shop front. This is an unacceptable psychological and ethical strain on workers and will not be tolerated,” added Angelo Di Cristo, UNI Finance Head of Department.

“This joint declaration, signed in a virtual ceremony today in the presence of the European Commission, aims to promote, through regulatory compliance, training, awareness-raising and healthy working conditions, an ethical and sustainable banking sector that respects and invests in its employees,” concluded Maureen Hick, UNI Europa Finance Director.

The signing ceremony, which had been due to take place at the ILO’s training centre in Turin, was carried out as originally planned on the same date and time in a virtual meeting on 7 May at 2pm.

UNI Finance and UNI Europa Finance would like to thank in particular our affiliates who helped draft and negotiate the joint declaration: Pia Desmet, William Portelli, Lucia Peveri, Adrian Soare, Ulrika Boëthius & Carla Kiburg – who very sadly passed away last week, a great loss for UNI and for the whole trade union movement.

Strong unions today and tomorrow!

Read the declaration here:

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