N26 files a restraining order against founders of works council

By Aisling Finn on Thursday 13 August 2020

Digital Banking

A storm is brewing in N26’s Berlin headquarters

N26 files a restraining order against founders of works council
Image source: Max Tayenthal and Valentin Stalf/N26

The founders of German digital bank N26 have filed a restraining order against the employees that started a works council in an attempt to stop the group from forming. 

Max Tayenthal and Valentin Stalf, who founded the digital bank in 2013, have obtained an injunction against six employees from a Berlin labour court. 

The founders claim that the proposed group goes “against almost all values that we believe in at N26.” 

The injunction initially meant that the work council’s elections had to be postponed but the employees have managed to circumvent the legal action with the only people excluded from the meeting being the original signatories. 

N26 tried to prevent the meeting from taking place, citing alleged “poor hygiene” relating to the coronavirus pandemic, as first reported yesterday by Finance Forward

According to employees, the digital bank had known about the planned meetings for some time but hadn’t mentioned any safety concerns until the filing of the injunction. 

In another attempt to derail the employee group, N26’s management team scheduled a meeting at the same time.  

An email sent to staff and seen by Finance Forward, Stalf reads: “We encourage all of you to come to the kick-off event for the ‘alternative employee representation’ tomorrow,” a meeting which happens to begin at the same time as the Works Council’s. 

The members of the works council published an open letter that said: “Trust and confidence in the management of N26 to ensure the wellbeing of the workforce as a whole is at an all-time low.” 

In response to the discontent felt by employees, N26 issued and Engagement Survey, many responses to which were deemed “angry rather than productive” by the management so were not taken into consideration.  

The letter goes on: “Contrary to the management’s interpretation, we believe the tone of the responses is evidence that many employees feel strongly about improving work life at N26, and that there’s a need for a medium to properly communicate and discuss company issues and concerns without management pressure.” 

German union ver.di has stepped in to chair the meetings due to be held this afternoon and tomorrow morning, which the works council says complies with German law and “employees still have a legal right to attend without any repercussions.”  

Despite not being present, the six employees responsible for founding the group can still be elected to serve on the works council’s board. 

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