The first country seminar in the context of the European research project EUROSOFIN on social dialogue in Austria’s banking sector and organized by FORBA - the Austrian research partner in the project - took place at the Austrian Trade Union House on June, 4 2014. Present at the one-day meeting were trade and employers‘ union representatives from the Austrian banking sector, European Works Council representatives from Austrian banks, as well as researchers from Austria, Romania, and Luxembourg.
The organization of country seminars in all the participating countries of the project constitutes a vital element of the project as they enable to both discuss with experts developments in the sector and disseminate preliminary research results. The objective of the Austrian country seminar was to discuss and analyse developments at the collective bargaining level in Austria, to provide examples of good practice from the sector, and to discuss in a comparative and transnational perspective both national and European challenges impacting on the sector.
Identified challenges included cases of restruturing and related practices and agreements between the social partners, the existing legal framework of restructuring, outsourcing and relocation practices of services within the sector, the impact of European legislation on employment, and the need for reskilling, training, as well as the significance of new professions within the sector.
After a brief introduction by Dr Christoph Hermann from FORBA and a presentation of EUROSOFIN objectives by Patrick Thill and Vassil Kirov from CEPS/INSTEAD, the first part of the seminar focused on the Austrian banking sector, restructuring practices and social dialogue. Helga Fichtinger from the Austrian Trade Union GPA-DJP (Gewerkschaft der Privatagestellten, Druck, Journalismus, Papier) provided a presentation of a study conducted by the trade union on restructuring in the Austrian banking sector. Helga Fichtinger explained and emphasized those aspects of restructuring that have currently been outsourced within the banking sector either in Austria or abroad to the neighboring countries, their impact on unemployment, as well as costs.
After a round of discussions between the social partners and the researchers, Dr Christoph Hermann presented results from a recent FORBA study in the context of the EUROSOFIN research with the main characteristics, as well as the legal framework of restructuring in Austria.
The second part of the seminars focussed on two presentations on the banking sector in Luxembourg and Romania. Patrick Thill and Vassil Kirov from CEPS/INSTEAD presented the main features of the banking sector in terms of activities and employment, as well as the recent challenges impacting on the sector by European legislation. The researchers pointed to the strong culture of social dialogue in the sector and highlighted a recent collective labor agreement signed between the social partners for the period of 2014-2016. Based on preliminary research results from interviews conducted in Luxembourg, a particular focus was placed on the role of new professions and processes of reskilling in the banking sector to meet future challenges. For Romania, Laurentiu Andronic from the Romanian Trade Union in the banking sector identified that recent developments at the social dialogue level have led to a decrease of social dialogue legislation.