Seven ‘symptoms’ of a global health crisis in the banking sector
Fear of unemployment, undue pressure and psychological abuse are just some of the causes of a personal health crisis affecting the global banking sector, a new report finds.
Banking: The Human Crisis, a major new survey of finance workers carried out in 26 countries, analysed the effects of job losses and working conditions on bank workers since 2011. The survey follows several recent tragedies in the finance sector, including the highly publicised deaths of bank employees in the UK and Switzerland.
Carried out by UNI Finance, the global union for the finance sector, the survey found that more than 80 per cent of banking unions in Europe reported deteriorating health as a major problem for their members. Stress was a key factor, with workers reporting unfeasible sales targets, lower salaries, and having to complete the same workload with fewer members of staff. Anxiety over job cuts was also high, partly due to a trend of replacing older workers with younger, lesser paid staff, often on temporary contracts.
Marcio Monzane, Head of UNI Finance said, “This is a crisis that has affected us all in so many ways. While we are rightly pointing the finger at bank owners for their role in the crisis, there are millions of honest, hardworking finance employees whose working lives have been ruined by the unstoppable wave of changes affecting their industry.
“Hundreds of thousands of jobs have, and continue to be, lost. The pressure on staff to deliver with tighter human resources is immense, and it is being reflected in the deteriorating health and lifestyle of bank workers worldwide.”
Half of the unions surveyed said members had complained that their personal life is under considerable strain. The IBOA union in Ireland reported staff were facing "unrealistic targets at all levels without consideration to the financial climate." A recent report by Statec, the national statistical institute in Luxembourg, found that psychological harassment is highest in the banking sector, hurting 12% of employees.
Job losses are accelerating in seven European countries including France, Netherlands, and Greece, as well as in Asia, the Americas and Africa, the report says. Losses are slowing down in nine other European countries such as Ireland, Spain and the UK, but from a very high level.
The report identifies seven key trends taking place within the sector that are placing excess pressure on workers:
· Widespread restructuring continues in the wake of the financial crisis
· Finance workers are under strong pressure to sell financial products
· Job losses are primarily affecting front line, back office, and IT positions
· Jobs are being off-shored and outsourced in regional patterns
· Union campaigns compensate for the absence of collective agreements outside of Europe
· Many finance workers report deteriorating health
· Restructuring is having a negative impact on business risk and productivity.
A worker at an international bank's call centre in Brazil said, “Reaching the target is not enough. Supervisors send emails giving the names of those who failed. I fear I will have a heart attack soon.”
An employee at a Spanish bank said, “More generally, clients are coming in starting fights with the bank employees over their mortgages or debts. There is not enough security for employees. Sadly, clients who feel financially abused are turning against basic front line employees instead of staging a protest in front of bank owners’ houses.”
UNI Global Union advocates for a fairer approach to restructuring, limiting payments to shareholders and doing the utmost to preserve jobs. Collective agreements between global unions and multinational banks, the union says, are a good way to ensure workers are treated and paid workers fairly. Raising standards in recipient countries of off-shored jobs through global agreements is a priority.
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For more information contact the UNI Global Union media team on 00 41 79 794 97 09
UNI Global Union is running its second annual work-life management fortnight from 7-20 October. 2013 This year’s theme is: Achieve more with less stress. A free campaign pack with materials is available from the UNI blog page:http://blogs.uniglobalunion.org/wlmgt