Social dialogue in financial sector: The future of labour relations in the financial sector

The Autonomous Trade Union of Employees in Banks, Insurance Companies and Other Financial Organizations of Serbia (SS BOFOS), in cooperation with the World Organization of Workers (WOW) and the European Center for Workers’ Questions (EZA), and with the support of the European Union, organized a seminar about „Social dialogue in financial sector: The future of labour relations in the financial sector”. The seminar was part of the EZA special project for workers' organisations in the Western Balkans “Strengthening social dialogue – shaping European integration“. The seminar was held in Novi Sad from 18 - 20 April, 2018. The meeting was attended by representatives of workers' organisations from the Netherlands, Slovenia, Bulgaria, Slovakia, Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia, while the lecturers were from Austria, Luxembourg, France and Serbia.

The aim of the seminar was exchange of participants’ experiences in relation to social dialogue in specific countries, as well as with digitizing the economy and its impact on the labor market, since in the process of adjusting jobs to changes brought about by digitization, trade unions will play an important role.


Although digitalisation will be subject to certain changes, the fact is that in the process of adjusting jobs to the changes brought about by digitalization, trade unions should play a significant role. New technologies could contribute to better social conditions of workers. Workers should take advantage of all the benefits of digitalisation.

It is necessary for trade unions from the Western Balkans to insist on the following issues regarding changes brought about by digitalization, as well as regarding problems in the financial sector in relation with social dialogue:

1. There are no more classic jobs, there are work tasks. Employees need to re-qualify and acquire new knowledge in terms of adjustment to digitization. Trade unions and employers have a common interest to channel employees and enable them to re-qualify in accordance with new work tasks.

2. Digitization should not create fear of losing jobs, because there will be a need for a different kind of work - flexible forms of employment. In countries where it is not regulated, it is necessary to regulate the legislation in order to define in more detail flexible forms of employment. In addition, trade unions should play an important role and participate in the process of proposing legal solutions; - solutions which should prevent possible negative effects of flexibility, so it would not lead to erosion of labour rights.

3. Employers must be aware of the fact that the human mind is not replaceable. The financial sector is a service sector, and in that sector, emotions are needed. The attention paid by the employee to the client cannot be replaced by the robots.

4. Trade unions, employers and states should work on strengthening and improving social dialogue, because the collective agreement has no real or lasting alternative. Digitalization conditions do not change the need for social dialogue.

5. It is necessary to improve the capabilities of employees to deal with modern labour market challenges arising from the impact of new technologies, and a key role in this should have trade unions, employers and the state. Therefore, cooperation at all three levels is required.