European bank reforms lead to staff mistrust

The
drive to reform Europe’s central banks is causing staff morale to plummet, a
major new study reveals.

The
detailed eight-month study by Professor John Storey, of the UK’s Open
University Business School, was commissioned by the international trade union
federation UNI-Europa and funded by the European Commission.

It
shows that the increased pressure on national banks to reform their working
practices is leading to a widespread loss of trust by their 60,000 employees.

The
degree to which management is open and honest about long-term agendas was also
widely questioned.

The
highest levels of dissatisfaction are in the Bank of France, where 94 per cent
of staff think that their working conditions have worsened.

At
the Bank of England, 65 per cent of staff report worsening treatment of
employees. There is also particular discontent with a controversial new
employment contract.

Overall,
half of the central bank staff surveyed across the EU report that employment
conditions are worsening, 39 per cent report a drop in job satisfaction and 43
per cent reveal they ‘no longer share the values’ of the organisation for which
they work.

The
exception was Sweden, where carefully constructed HR policies are responsible
for far higher levels of employee satisfaction.

Story
said: "Sweden provides evidence that sophisticated HR policies and
practices can make a positive difference.

"When
the European Central Bank was set up in 1998 it was given total independence
from German and European law.

"It
has no works council, doesn’t recognise unions and has no collective bargaining
procedure. And although it has a staff committee, it doesn’t deal with it
properly. Other central banks are picking up this tone and there is clear
evidence of a toughening stance on employment conditions in Europe’s central
banks."

The
study drew on four sources of information: a literature search; a review of
employee statistics; staff interviews; and the results of 465 questionnaires.

By Phil Boucher

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