This study has investigated how two Norwegian banks have enacted and experienced individualized pay systems. The analysis was undertaken with in-depth qualitative interviews with a shop steward representative and a management representative at both banks, as well as with an employee representative at one of them. In addition, a preliminary interview with a delegate from the employer organization in the financial services industry was completed – mainly as a means to obtain introductory knowledge of recent trends and debates of remuneration among Norwegian banks. The development has been manifested in a proposition from 2001 rendered by a joint commission comprising representatives from Finansforbundet (sector level trade union) and Finansnæringens Arbeidsgiverforening (sector level employer organization). The document, here called the Individualization of Remuneration Proposal (IRP), drafted by the commission declared the need for adoption of more individually based forms of remuneration of employees in the Norwegian financial services industry. The crux was clause 14.5 from the Basic Agreement – which inherently offers significant leeway for local fixation of payment, and the proposition was for two alternative routes towards such decentralizing reforms. Firstly, one ‘moderate’ alternative to include employees, in some way, in the examination of individual payment commanded by clause 14.5 of the Basic Agreement. One example is to involve pay related issues in the already existing ‘appraisal interviews’. Secondly, a more ‘radical’ alternative consisting of complete determination of wages through individual sessions of wage discussions between employee and employer just as in the Swedish financial services sector (i.e. ‘pay interviews’).
Two case banks have been investigated. Each followed a separate route from the IRP, and both chose to include pay-related discussions in the ‘appraisal interview’ sessions. The study assumes a feature to be a vital spur in the development of the first for both cases; namely, the existence of a kindred decentralized organizational structure in both banks. The study infers that the most important difference between the case banks unfolded as a matter of which position shop stewards were granted to the revenue-related aspects of the employment relationship under the implementation of the new pay regime. Even though it is uncertain whether or not either of the two bank cases will create and/or sustain such a procedural role for shop stewards in the longer run, the conclusion of this study is that such positions are the most promising for continuous trade union presence and influence of wage settlement in banks operating with individualized pay systems.