First International Bank of Israel is reducing its staff by up to 5% through a voluntary retirement program for up to 180 employees below management level. The bank's management will have a freer hand in dealing with employees: new and temporary employees will have to wait twice as long before becoming tenured employees at the bank.
Following recent difficulties in labor relations in its technology department and at one of its banking subsidiaries, which it wanted to merge with the parent company, First International Bank reported yesterday that the agreements with its clerical workers' committee had been approved, headed by a plan for voluntary retirement of 130-180 employees. The parties agreed that they would begin negotiations "on various matters pertaining to labor relations at the bank." The parties also agreed that as long as negotiations were in progress, all legal proceedings would be suspended.
As part of the understandings, it was agreed that up to 180 employees would leave the bank and receive enlarged compensation of up to 170%. The existing labor agreements at the banks will be changed to lengthen the trial period for clerical staff from two years at present to four years, while consent from the workers' committee will no longer be required for marketing campaigns outside the branch and after working hours. These changes will give the bank's management a freer hand.
The agreement between the clerical workers' committee and management also changes conversion of sick leave into vacation days for retiring workers according to actual use of sick leave. The parties also agreed that the banks would pay its clerical staff a bonus in installments amounting to an average of one month's pay. Part of the bonus will be contingent on progress in the early retirement program towards the stipulated quota of retirees.
Mataf employees return to negotiations on a collective agreement
The bank is not providing any details about the cost of its retirement program, which has only begun, but it will be over NIS 10 million. First International Bank, controlled by Zadik Bino and managed by CEO Smadar Barber-Tsadik, has a market cap of over NIS 8.1 billion. The bank recently merged Bank Otsar Hahayal into itself, following a confrontation with the smaller bank's employees. Workers at Mataf, First International's technology and computer arm, also began sanctions in recent days, but as of now have returned to talks with the bank on a new collective labor agreement.
At the end of 2017, FIBI Group had 4,451 employees, including 3,363 at First International Bank of Israel and the rest at its subsidiaries in Israel and overseas. The clerical workers' committee represents 1,900 workers, 8% of whom are to be included in the early retirement plan, amounting to 4.6% of First International Bank's total employees.
First International Bank stated in its annual 2017 reports, "The average seniority of the bank's employees is 18.7 years, compared with 18.1 years at the end of 2016… The average age of the bank's employees was 47.2, compared with 46.26 at the end of 2016."
Published by Globes, Israel business news - en.globes.co.il - on January 9, 2019
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