In the Herzwald lives a small, cute little unicorn. But although everyone is very fond of him and feeds him sugared clover, the little animal does not behave like a unicorn at all. He simply says no all the time, so that soon everyone will call him just NOHORN.

The NEINHORN is one of the best children’s books of the last few months and funny to parents and children alike. Author Marc-Uwe Kling and illustrator Astrid Henn certainly didn’t know that the description on N26, THE Unicorn of our Fintech sector would fit the description equally well. But it does fit and it is unfortunately less funny than one might think. Especially not if you get the idea of setting up a works council at N26 these days. This is exactly the idea that some employees at N26 had, and they are now feeling what the N26 board of directors thinks of the matter. Nothing.

Basically, the whole story would not even have been worth a footnote if the management of N26, consisting of Maximilian Tayenthal and Valentin Stalf, had not resisted the foundation with all their might and thus not only made themselves completely ridiculous, but had not understood one or the other social principle, e.g. democracy. Of course it is easier to rule in a company if there is no representation of the interests of employees.

N26: A no horn.

You can also sell this as “agility” or “new work”. A works council violates “almost all the values we believe in at N26”, according to the management. One might think that a works council would mean the end of agility, indeed the demise of the showpiece finch as we know it. You can believe it, but you don’t have to. After all, a works council is not responsible for the introduction of communism, but its tasks include

  • A works council ensures that applicable laws, accident prevention regulations and company agreements are implemented in favour of the employees. For example, that at 40 degrees in the call centre, fresh air may be provided.
  • A works council makes sure that women and men actually have equal rights. Diversity and so on.
  • A works council takes care of particularly vulnerable persons and disabled employees
  • A works council promotes the compatibility of family and employment. That such crazy things as parental leave are possible without any problems.
  • and much more. Everything is regulated in §80 BetrVG.
N26: A no horn.

If diversity, accident prevention regulations, environmental protection, reconciliation of family and work and, in the end, the rights of employees “against almost all the values” in which N26 is believed, then every user should think carefully about whether he/she wants to have his/her account with such a bank. At a time when a young target group in particular is paying attention to sustainability, the fight against racism and diversity, the behaviour of the N26 leadership certainly does not fit the picture.

In view of the fact that N26, with 5 million customers, is one of the largest German banks, such a bank has responsibilities and cannot rest on the fact that it may have started out in a garage. The truth is: N26 is a big bank. Not a startup. A bank. And as a company with about 1,300 employees, you should not prevent the establishment of a works council with a temporary injunction or call a company-wide meeting at the time of the works meeting. Instead, one should push the issue forward with a kiss on the hand. Because that is greatness.

And to all those who still believe that employee representation is destroying our brave new digital world, a few achievements of the last decades:

  • continued payment of wages in the event of illness
  • 5 days a week
  • Paid leave
  • Protection against dismissal
  • and much more.

Good employers have nothing to fear from a works council. Bad ones, well.