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Higher Salaries and Increased Focus on Job Satisfaction

President of Finansforbundet Kent Petersen is pleased that the new collective agreement includes concrete measures for enhancing employee satisfaction and that everyone is guaranteed an increase in real salary.

23. Mar 2020
6 min
Af Carsten Jørgensen
cjo@finansforbundet.dk

​"When measuring what a good collective agreement is, I look at whether the collective agreement meets the requirements imposed on me by Finansforbundet's Agreement Conference prior to the negotiation. These requirements ultimately come from the members and are therefore our essential point of orientation. And so does this agreement," says Kent Petersen, President of Finansforbundet.

The most important requirement from the hinterland, apart from salary, was that job satisfaction be written into the collective agreement. And the President of Finansforbundet believes that this has been achieved.

"We have tried in the past to include declarations of intent and texts in the SU provisions, which did not overcome the problem. This time it is much more specific. We have decided to set up a joint committee on job satisfaction, which will make recommendations on how to improve job satisfaction in the workplace. We have also employed three well-being consultants who, with their base in Finansforbundet's secretariat, are tasked with supporting workplaces that are challenged by lack of well-being. Delegates and management can draw on the well-being consultants and get them out in the workplace to help put the initiatives for better well-being in place," explains Kent Petersen.

He was very happy that during the negotiations for a new collective agreement employers acknowledged the fact that many places have serious problems with job satisfaction. Therefore, the foundation for strengthening the efforts for well-being is otherwise now strong compared to before, where the same common recognition of problems with the psychological working environment was not present.

A negotiator must be hungry for higher salaries

The 3-year collective agreement, which enters into force on April 1 if the ballot returns a majority, contains a pay bracket of 6 per cent and an increase in employer-paid pension contributions of 0.65 per cent over the three years. Part of the local framework will be finally negotiated through the pool system in company collective agreements and in local negotiations for companies covered by the standard collective agreement. Kent Petersen had the following to say about the salary result:

"All negotiators wish that they had secured a higher salary than the one they conclude in a collective agreement. A negotiator must be hungry for higher salaries. But I believe it has ended with a reasonable increase of real salary for everyone for the next three years. The pools for local pay negotiations are slightly larger than before, which means that some of the funds therein can be distributed individually. But I am convinced that locally, a sensible position will be taken on the pools and the possibility of negotiation that lies ahead."

He adds that the average salary slippage has been at 1.1 per cent per year over the past number of years - i.e. salary increases that companies and employees negotiate in addition to the collective agreement. 

Renewal of collective agreement

The labour market's collective agreements are typically based either on minimal salaries, where a minimum salary is centrally agreed and the employer and employee of the individual company then agree on the final salary locally. This is the case, e.g. in the field of industry. Or it is based on a collective agreement for normal salary, where all salary rates and increases are agreed centrally. This applies, e.g. to the public domain. Kent Petersen believes that the new collective agreement combines the normal salary area with the minimal salary area and takes the best elements from both areas.

"The hour bank account has been adjusted in order that, to some degree, it can be compared with the free choice programmes contained in other collective agreements. The sixth holiday week and days of dependants' leave are now deposited in the hour bank account, and the individual is provided with a better opportunity to choose between taking more holiday or having a portion of the hours they have saved paid out," points out Kent Petersen.

Independent work organisation

The standard collective agreement between Finansforbundet and FA (the Danish Employers' Association for the Financial Sector) is an industry collective agreement, which historically speaking is for good reason. But the current challenge is to step away from the industrial mindset and modernise the agreement so that it can embrace the changes that are a condition of an increasingly digitalised work life. Therefore, a number of the negotiations have been about modernising parts of the salary and working time system.

"This means more reasonable flexibility, which also makes a great deal of sense for employees. The level for how much extra work can be endured without being paid has changed moderately, which means that the change will have an impact on persons that are on salary grades 69-73 (a monthly salary of more than DKK 53,000 ed.). On the other hand, they will now enjoy more co-determination over their work day via work organisation, where an annual standard of 1,924 hours still has to be maintained. This amount will have to be reduced if the workload cannot be kept within this," explains Kent Petersen.

He believes the change will be positive, as many members have expressed that they would like more flexible working hours. "Our job satisfaction surveys show that those who thrive the most are those who have the opportunity to organise their work independently. So this provision will probably also improve the well-being of many employees," says Kent Petersen.

Momentum during negotiations

According to the schedule for the collective bargaining, the parties had until Friday, 28 February to reach an agreement. But the agreement on a new collective agreement was already signed on Monday, 17 February.

"We started the negotiations very far apart. My immediate impression was that the employers would more or less settle the entire collective agreement at the first meeting. But we talked in a measured and gradual way and began to connect. And we gained so much momentum after the second negotiation meeting that we decided to try to reach our goal earlier than planned. The most important thing about a negotiation is to maintain the positive momentum that is created," believes Kent Petersen.

Members of Finansforbundet who are covered by the collective agreement have recently been sent an electronic invitation to vote by ballot on the collective agreement.

I hope that the members will support the agreement, as I believe that the result of the collective agreement is a good, sound basis for the work life of our members over the next three years," says Kent Petersen.