UniCredit Bank faces strike

Trade unions want the salaries of employees to be increased.

UniCredit BankUniCredit Bank (Source: SME)

Although jobs in the banking and insurance sectors are among the highest in Slovakia where statistics are concerned, there are huge gaps between how much top management and people sitting behind the counter earn.

Most recently, the UniCredit Bank employees decided to point to insufficient salary conditions, overtime and work stress. The situation is so tense that they started wearing badges saying “Strike Alert” on their clothes, the Sme daily reported.

They talk about the problems with clients as well, to whom they mention low salaries, difficulties with achieving plans and huge work loads, especially with branches in shopping centres.

What do the trade unions want?

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The trade unions have been negotiating a new collective agreement with UniCredit management for several weeks, but a deal has not been reached.

“A bank that belongs among the top five banks in Slovakia is unable to increase the salaries of its employees even according to inflation, and the employer is willing to pay a 13th salary at €500 only if basic salaries become lower,” said Jana Szászová, who represents the trade unions in UniCredit Bank, as quoted by Sme.

The average salaries in the financial sector are distorted, she added. Employees in the bank earn usually €800-€1,000 gross a month, which is less than the average in the national economy. The worst situation is in Bratislava, where the living costs are higher, she added.

Although employees can improve their salary with quarter bonuses, they are often unable to meet the plans.

The dispute worsened after the headquarters in Vienna refused to pay Christmas bonuses, although the results of the Slovak branch are good and they met the plans, Sme reported.

On the other hand, the management has no problem to pay annual bonuses at 100 percent of their annual salary, the trade unions claim.

Fluctuation is a problem

Low salaries often lead to employees leaving the bank for a better paid jobs, and it is very hard to find their replacement.

“The agenda is then distributed among the remaining employees, who are unable to get their job done during working hours,” the trade unions said, as quoted by Sme.

If they fail to make a deal, the trade unions are ready to go on strike.

The bank’s management said the situation is under control, and they are continuing in talks with both the trade unions and employees.

Meanwhile, negotiations over salaries also took place in Slovenská Sporiteľňa, where the trade unions succeeded in their proposal of increasing the salaries of all employees by 4 percent from next year. At the same time, basic salary will increase from €800 to €910 gross, Sme reported.

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