ECONOMY

Banks take more steps toward a collective pay agreement

The cracks in the banks’ front against a collective pay pact with the Federation of Bank Employee Unions (OTOE) appeared to widen yesterday. At a meeting called by Labor and Social Security Minister Savvas Tsitouridis in response to a call by OTOE, only Alpha Bank and Eurobank stuck to their guns for the conducting of separate negotiations within each individual bank. State-run National Bank of Greece and ATEbank made a clear turn in favor of a collective arrangement of sector issues, having refused last January to enter negotiations for a collective pact and opting for one for each bank. «We have recorded the wish of many banks to proceed through a mode of collective arrangement for significant issues that concern the banking sector,» said Tsitouridis, adding that until the next meeting, by June 15, he will have further investigated the banks’ intentions and positions. Dialogue has prevailed, Tsitouridis said, adding that the government believes in collective negotiations. It is clear that once substantial negotiations begin the issues on the table will go beyond the pay pact, with working hours the top priority. The ministry’s initiative drew positive comments from the heads of OTOE, Dimitris Tsoukalas, and the General Confederation of Greek Labor (GSEE), Christos Polyzogopoulos, although Alekos Kalivis of GSEE and Zois Pepes of OTOE expressed their reservations about the final agenda as well as possible sneakiness from banks. The catalyst in yesterday’s meeting was the presence of the NBG chairman, Takis Arapoglou, who is facing an internal problem as the NBG union refuses to consent (through the shares it controls) to the increase of the share capital for the acquisition of Turkey’s Finansbank. Even though the head of the NBG union, Stavros Koukos, denied any relationship between the collective pay pact and the position the union will maintain on the issue of the share capital rise, the link between the two is obvious. He also stated he would expect the management’s answers to the 14 questions he has posed. NBG unionists of the pro-government faction (DAKE) suggest that their final position on the issue of the Turkish bank’s acquisition will be determined by the atmosphere in the Parliament today during Arapoglou’s update to deputies.