OTOE was founded in 1955, in a difficult period for the trade union movement, as a result of the need for co-ordinated action between unions, already functioning in each bank.
Particularly in larger banks, unions were already in existence and they were developing a significant activity many years before the founding of the Federation. For example, the National Bank Employee Union was founded in 1917, the Bank of Greece Employee Union in 1929, the Agricultural Bank Employee Union in 1932, the Bank of Athens Employee Union in 1934, the Commercial Bank Employee Union in 1945 and the Ionian Bank Employee Union in 1948.
The first bank employees’ federation (OYET - Federation of Greek Banks Employees) was founded in February 1950 by the employee unions of the Bank of Athens, the Ionian Bank, the Commercial Bank, and the Popular Bank. However, this Federation had limited range as the majority of the bank employees belonged to unions which were not among its membership (employee unions in National Bank, Bank of Greece, Agricultural Bank etc.).
Thus, in 1955, following consultations among the presidents of all the employee unions, it was agreed to found OTOE which had in its membership the most important first level employee unions of that time.
From that time on, OTOE has been playing a determinant co-ordinating role in the activities of its member-unions and, through its mobilisations and interventions, it has put its stamp upon labour relations in the sector, developments in the credit system and the general economic and political developments in the country, and it became one of the most massive, active and efficient second-level trade union organisations.
Trade union density in the sector (trade union members/overall employed) amounts to 85%, which is one of the highest in Greece and Europe. It should be noted, however, that in banks of state interest which employ a small number of employees, trade union density reaches 100%, in other large banks -previously of state interest trade union density is particularly high, whereas in small private greek and foreign banks it is significantly lower and, in certain cases almost non-existent.
As a result, the range of the trade union movement is significantly differentiated depending on the area and the type of enterprise, and there is still a need for OTOE to expand its activity, primarily in order to secure the respect of collective agreements in areas where trade union presence is limited.
OTOE’s administrative bodies are the Congress, the General Council and the Executive Committee.
The Congress comprises of delegates from the member-unions of OTOE, elected especially for this purpose in elections held by the first level unions prior to the Congress. On average, 75 members with a voting right correspond to one delegate.
The Congress is OTOE’s supreme body. It decides on every issue pertaining to the Federation and its activity, even on those issues which are not explicitly provided by its statutes. According to the latest amendment of the statutes, the Congress is convened every three years.
The General Council is elected by the Congress and comprises of 75 members who act in accordance with the decisions taken and the action programme elaborated by the Congress, for a full term and until the next Congress. The General Council is responsible for the policy of the Federation and for the specialisation and implementation of its action plan; it can also call for strike action and sign collective agreements which cover the entirety of employees in the sector.
The Executive Committee is elected by the General Council. It comprises of 15 members and is competent for the specialisation and implementation of the decisions taken by the General Council. Beside the members of the Presiding Board (President, Vice President, General Secretary, Deputy General Secretary, Treasurer, and their deputies) which represent OTOE and conduct its’ daily activities, each one of the other members of the Executive Committee is the head of one or more Special Secretariats of Responsibility.
At present OTOE’s trade union work is supported, accomplished and specialized through the following Special Secretariats of Responsibility:
- Social Security issues
- International Relations
- Labour Relations & Collective Agreements
- Operational Support
- Regional Branches and Organizational issues
- Financial System
- Sports and Culture
- Health and Safety
Each Secretariat promotes its work in its area of responsibility, and it has an advisory role towards the Federation’s administrative bodies, as well as an executive role with regard to the implementation of their decisions and support to OTOE’s union members on issues of its competence.
In addition to OTOE’s human resources and infrastructure in Athens, Regional Branches operate in every prefecture of the country. They are administered by seven-member committees, and their competence lies in promoting the decisions and organising the interventions made by OTOE at local level, as well as in providing solutions to any relevant problems.
For its current work, OTOE employs an administrative, secretarial and auxiliary personnel comprising of 12 persons; also, it has its own offices and an important technical and information infrastructure.
The work of the Presiding Board of the Executive Committee and of the Special Secretariats is supported on a regular basis by Special Consultants (on legal, financial, labour relations and social security issues), by OTOE’s regular Associates-Experts, by external Associates and by the Labour Institute of OTOE (INE/OTOE) and its Associates.
INE/OTOE was founded in 1991, following a decision of OTOE’S bodies, and it is the expression in the sector of INE (Institute of Labour) of the Greek General Confederation of Labour (GSEE). Issues of its competence are trade union education, vocational training, documentation and elaboration of studies-researches as well as publications which are of interest to the trade union movement in the sector.
So far, INE/OTOE has developed a significant research and educational work from which remarkable publications and editions have resulted. Also, it has shown an active presence in international co-operations, developing relevant national and European projects. It has supported and is supporting OTOE in developing and promoting a reliable and thorough trade union discourse, as required by the contemporary conditions in trade union intervention and action, but also in order to continuously inform and train the trade union officials and the employees in the sector. INE/OTOE is administered by an Administration Board, it is supported by a specialised scientific group and it has a remarkable information and technical educational infrastructure.
In 2007, OTOE together with ETYK (Cyprus Union of Bank Employees) have founded DI.KE.TE (Interbanking Training and Documentation Center), a non profit organisation having as objectives:
- To respond to the training needs in the banks and generally in the financial sector.
- To provide scientific data and findings to the member-unions .
- Conduct field research on issues concerning the financial sector.
- Organize the electronic interface and handling of information and knowledge to member-unions of OTOE.
- Organize a library, publish a newspaper, magazine and books in order to inform bank employees on their professional and trade union perspectives and developments .
- Develop partnerships with education & training institutions in the trade union or academic field.
- Launch international cooperation in order to improve the economic and social status of people in developing areas.