There is no end to the flow of gloomy financial news. Factories are closing, operations are being reduced, staff are being laid off temporarily or for good. The effects of the pandemic on the economy are undeniable, but the measures taken by all companies to reduce staff are by no means due to coronavirus.
For years, in order to maximize the efficiency of companies and shareholder returns, companies have looked to relocating operations outside of Finland. The aim, of course, is to reduce labour costs. As a result, hundreds of people of working age have been forced to leave their jobs in companies whose performance, measured by almost any measure, has been excellent.
This is also the case at Nordea. Finding transferable functions has become an everyday way to “develop” operations. This week, a new batch of employees has heard that they are in danger of losing their jobs, as Nordea has started co-operation negotiations to reduce a total of 37 jobs. In addition, negotiation proposals for six people’s jobs were issued in August. All reductions will once again apply to business support units. The negotiations are due to be completed before Christmas, when information about the loss of a job will come to the staff as an unwanted Christmas present.
Why aren’t the reductions discussed in public?
Employee representatives are often asked why ongoing staff reductions are not made public. Those asking are often the staff who are laid off and those who are scared and wondering “is it my turn next?” The answer is harsh: only sufficiently large figures exceed the news threshold. While it is unlikely that reaching the headlines would change the decision already made by the company, it would bring more attention to the issue and perhaps increase consideration when drawing up future development plans.
Especially in a situation in which there are already well over 200,000 unemployed jobseekers in the labour market, it is irresponsible to relocate to Poland and Estonia in pursuit of lower labour costs. It is therefore not a question of reducing work by automation or robotisation, but of work that still requires human hands to do. However, hands alone are not enough, but a head and experience are also needed to understand the whole and the implications of various actions. Therefore, the most skilled hands are those working right now. In Finland.
In Nordea’s other business area in Finland, the situation is quite the opposite. Current human resources are not sufficient to meet demand. For example, demand for mortgages from private customers is at record levels. Due to staff shortages, dozens of advisors are constantly working overtime. Resources are scarce because the situation has been going on for a very long time. Of course, it is great that there are enough customers and Nordea is perceived as a bank with which you want to manage your own finances. However, running a core business on overtime is unsustainable.
There is a public debate about training existing staff for new roles. An influential party has even given the impression that, in the current crisis, it would be an excellent opportunity to check who is really needed in the company and to get rid of those with lacking skills. The responsibility for maintaining work skills lies with everyone. One must be willing to learn new things and update their skills. But equally, all responsibility also lies with the employer, who makes decisions about business development. A responsible employer makes sure that its staff knows where the company is going and what kind of skills are needed, in addition to providing the necessary training.
According to the Employment Contracts Act, in the event of redundancies, the employer must provide the employee with the training required for the new duties that can be considered appropriate and reasonable for both parties. Despite this, efforts to ensure the continuity of the work of the company’s existing staff remain very meagre. The rapid pace of change is used as an argument, leaving no time to organise reasonable training. That will certainly be the case if staff development and resource management are very short-term. By anticipating even half a year ahead, many unnecessary reduction projects could be avoided and skilled personnel in one’s own company could be employed for new tasks in accordance with the changed needs.
The chief shop steward’s office