Frankfurt The Verdi union is demanding extensive assurances for employees when the Commerzbank is being rebuilt. “We asked Commerzbank to negotiate a company collective agreement in addition to the industry collective agreement,” Verdi union secretary Stefan Wittmann told Handelsblatt. “The background to this is that some of the virtual advisory centers should also work on Saturdays.” This is currently not possible because the industry collective agreement prohibits work on Saturdays.
“There is definitely a willingness among the workforce to work occasionally on Saturdays,” said Wittmann, who is also on the Commerzbank supervisory board. “However, the bank must precisely define in which cases Saturday work is necessary – and of course pay the appropriate surcharges.”
In addition, Verdi is demanding protection against redundancies for operational reasons for all Commerzbank AG employees up to and including 2027. In addition, there should be protection of all 13 digital advice centers announced by the bank for at least ten years, starting with their respective opening.
Commerzbank plans to close 340 of its currently 790 branches, 240 of them this year. When it comes to customer care, the institute intends to increasingly rely on advice centers in the future. Customers are to be advised there digitally and by telephone around the clock – even on more complex topics such as securities investments or real estate financing.
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Branch employees should switch to the advice center
Private customer board member Sabine Schmittroth said at the beginning of the year that after her experience of working from home in the corona crisis, she saw no reason why housing financing could not also be discussed in a video conference. The aim is to increase the number of customers who are also advised remotely from 25 to 90 percent.
As a first step, Germany’s second largest private bank wants to open three consulting centers in Quickborn, Düsseldorf and Berlin. According to financial circles, others are to be created later in Frankfurt, Mannheim, Nuremberg, Munich, Stuttgart, Cologne, Leipzig / Halle, Hanover, Dresden and at the CDS subsidiary in Duisburg. In total, a good 1000 employees should work in the advisory centers.
In Verdi’s view, dismissal protection and guarantees of existence are essential for the establishment of the centers. “Safe framework conditions are important so that employees from the branches that are now closing can apply for jobs in the advice centers,” said union secretary Wittmann. He also demands that the wage settlement in the current collective bargaining round is also taken over for the non-tariff paid employees of the money house.
If the Commerzbank board does not respond to Verdi’s demands, Wittmann threatens a strike. “The in-house collective bargaining commission formed for this purpose has expressly reserved the right to call for a labor dispute in the context of the current collective bargaining round for the industry with a view to its own demands.”
Verdi strongly represented in the workforce
Verdi has a strong presence at Commerzbank compared to other financial institutions. According to Wittmann, the level of organization among non-managerial employees is over 30 percent nationwide.
At least some of the union’s demands are unlikely to meet with approval from the Commerzbank board of directors. The management also wants to prevent redundancies for operational reasons, but does not rule them out as a last resort.
Commerzbank wants to cut a total of 10,000 full-time positions by 2024 as part of its new strategy. Since the institute wants to create 2,500 new jobs at the same time, the bottom line would be 7500 jobs. In May, the board of directors reached an agreement with the employee representatives on the general conditions for job cuts.
CEO Manfred Knof wants to use the austerity measures to achieve a return on equity of seven percent by 2024. However, many analysts are skeptical that it will achieve this goal. The greatest risks in restructuring are the development of earnings and the restructuring of IT.
In July, after numerous breakdowns and delays, Commerzbank canceled the outsourcing of securities processing to HSBC. In the second quarter, the bank therefore had to make a special write-off of 200 million euros and provisions in the double-digit million range.
More: Conversion with obstacles: Commerzbank is slipping deep into the red.