Bank Leumi Pulls Back on Worker Monitoring After Union Threatens

Israeli banks Discount, Bank haPoalim and Bank Leumi stand next to each other in central Tel Aviv. (Miriam Alster/ Flash90)
Israeli banks Discount, Hapoalim and Leumi stand next to each other in central Tel Aviv. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

Union heads for workers in Bank Leumi threatened to walk off the job after the bank attempted to install a new system that it said would allow workers to dispense with their identity cards, but that the union believed would be used to more closely monitor them on the job.

A report in Globes said that the union leaders got wind of the project on Friday, and threatened management that if the system was not immediately removed, workers would not show up for work on Sunday. The bank backed down, and the system was removed. Neither the bank nor the union had any comment, but the bank did say that the system in question was not to be used to monitor worker activities, but to replace the workers’ magnetic ID cards that must be run through a time clock with a system that lets workers check in and out via their cell phones.

Bank Leumi has had a great deal of trouble with its unions in recent years, as the bank has sought to shed workers after a ten-year hiring spree. In addition, its contracts with all salaried workers includes a 4 percent automatic elevator clause for all workers’ salaries annually, regardless of the inflation rate. The bank also has a large obligation to its pension funds for workers who have already retired.

The bank was recently able to let about 1,000 workers go, and an incentive program will allow workers to take early retirement with a package of incentives worth 270 percent more than they would get for regular retirement. The program, which will allow the bank to shed an additional 700 workers, is being supported by the Bank of Israel.