German digital bank N26 is grappling with discontent from some of its employees, who are trying to organize a works council to express their concerns with management.
Staff at the Berlin-headquartered fintech company held two votes this week to elect a board for the works council, which aims to represent workers in meetings with employers. They are now set to begin the process of organizing a works council election.
The move was met with fierce opposition from N26′s management, with the company filing two separate court orders to prevent both meetings from happening. Employees organizing the works council managed to find a way around the injunctions by enlisting the help of German labor unions ver.di and IG Metall.
“Trust and confidence in the management of N26 ensuring the wellbeing of the workforce as a whole is at an all time low,” the N26 workers claimed in a statement on their website. “We have seen that our management is aware of the discontent of employees.”
News of the friction between N26 and its staff was first reported by German fintech news outlet Finance Forward. Among the concerns raised by employees was a lack of transparency when it comes to salaries and high work pressure, according to Finance Forward.
N26′s co-founders Valentin Stalf and Maximilian Tayenthal have argued for an alternative, saying they believe the traditional German works council doesn’t fit with the fintech group’s culture and would exclude international employees. The company claims it filed the injunctions against employee gathering due to concerns over safety amid the coronavirus pandemic.
“The alternative to the Works Council should have a representation of employees who are not only based in Germany, but also all other countries, including Brazil and the United States,” N26 told CNBC in an emailed statement Thursday, adding this alternative should also allow for digital voting and decision making.
“There could also be a shorter term for members of the global employee representation board to ensure that new employees don’t have to wait for several years until they get to elect their representatives. We believe that this will take employee representation to the next, international and inclusive, level.”
But, the company added: “That said, if the N26 team feels that they want to organize the feedback culture in Germany differently via a works council, N26 will of course respect and support this, as well as any step in the formation of an electoral board.”
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