As it grapples with the euro zone economic crisis the European Central Bank is also confronting a problem within its Frankfurt headquarters: staff anger at the resulting extra workload.
Ipso, the union among ECB staff, has written to Mario Draghi, the bank’s president, to warn of risks from a growing number of long-term absences and stress-related illness. It wants the bank to recruit more staff.
The representations to Mr. Draghi follow a staff survey on workload and working time. Ipso says a significant number of bank employees complained about their workload.
Marius Mager, president of Ipso, said: “We are five years into the crisis and there is no end in sight. Since the collapse of Lehman Brothers the workload has increased and the crisis has turned into a permanent situation, which is having a significant effect on staff. The workload these days is at a level that is no longer sustainable.”
ECB staff have become involved in a number of so-called troika missions to countries such as Greece that have received EU financial bailouts. The staff concerns also come as the ECB prepares for a further increase in its responsibilities, with EU leaders having decided last month that the bank should take a central role in common euro zone bank supervision.
“The ECB is not adequately staffed to fulfil its current tasks, let alone emerging and increasingly important ones!” Ipso warns in its letter to Mr. Draghi.
Part of the blame for staff shortages is laid by Ipso at the door of the euro zone countries’ national central banks, which Ipso says are keeping ECB resources “clearly limited.”
Mr. Draghi, who took over from Jean-Claude Trichet last year, has told workers that a request is likely for an increase in staff numbers. Ipso wants a commitment that any increase will “alleviate the burden” for existing staff and not be used to cover new tasks that the banks might take on.
The bank said: “The ECB’s executive board is aware of the workload that the current situation entails for staff. It appreciates the high staff commitment and has taken a number of measures to ensure staff wellbeing and smooth operations.”
The bank’s executive board was considering a request to its governing council for an increase in the workforce, it said, adding: “The ECB as a European institution remains very committed to a prudent usage of its resources.”
Mr. Mager said pressure was high on staff in core functions such as financial stability or for those working on country missions or the bank’s economic division.
“There is also a significant extra demand being placed on statistics staff,” Mr. Mager said.
“There has been a suggestion to the governing council to increase the headcount. Our concern is that this will not be enough but will be a symbolic increase, in core areas affected by the crisis.”
Ipso represents about 40 per cent of the bank’s 1,200 full-time permanent staff.