Debt collection industry, Kredinor | First they got new offices – and then all 40 people lost their jobs

Debt collection industry, Kredinor |  First they got new offices – and then all 40 people lost their jobs

(Hamar Arbeiderblad): – We were treated so badly in Hamar, I don't know if I should have done so much in my last four months!

Christine Roknstad (61) from Hamar tells HA.

In the first week of January, she had to help when Kredinor closed its doors – the last thing that happened was the coffee machine was collected – in Hamar.

Formally speaking, he is working with the company till April 30. When she turned 62, it was all over. This comes decades after he started the business, which went through several name changes and changes of ownership to become Crediner.

At the end, you can read what Krediner has to say about a veteran employee's review.

Joined at the start…

In 1982, Kristin Rognstad, who grew up in Bekkelaget in Stange, started a permanent job at Sparebank Hedmark (predecessor of Sparebank 1 Østlandet). Before that, she had a summer job at a bank branch in Stang. In later years he worked in a bank and depository.

– In recent years I have worked in the direction of debt collection, says Roknstad.

After she became a mother, she took up the banking academy. He has been licensed as a debt collector for many years.

In 1995, he joined Hetmark Incasopira, owned by Sperbanken Hetmark. Under Bjørn Krogh's leadership, the business gained many employees and delivered good profits. Gradually, new co-owners arrived. Actor Fordringsforvaltning, Conecto and Mohdi were three names before finally Kredinor.

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… and brings the end with it

– In the summer of 2022, the company I worked for was called Mohdi. Later Mohdi joined Crediner. There was a party and great things, and since January 1 last year we are now called Krediner. Two weeks later, we were informed that the office in Hamar – and several branch offices – would be closed, says Christine Roknstad and continues:

– We had 40 employees at Hamar then. We just moved into the newly renovated campus opposite the Herwald building in the center. 50 had office space and were told to grow. Our boss, who talked about development plans, went around and cheated. We were all cheated. There are no employees in the Hamar office now.

Nothing is spared

– You say that both the boss and you were tricked into rounding up. How would you substantiate such a strong claim?

– I am sure that the central management knew what was going to happen at Hamar long before the decision was made to close the Hamar branch. They recently spent a lot of money renovating our new premises. An interior designer was hired to get the colors on the walls to match the furniture, and we got a new kitchen. Two weeks after we moved to Crediner, we received word that the entire office would be closing.

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– But “roll tactfully” – why do you say that?

– Many offices were closed immediately after the merger – which was known in the summer of 2022 – shows that someone knew what was going to happen. Both the Bergen and Kristiansand offices were closed before Hamar. We should be there until the New Year. It feels like we've been put on the torture bench.

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– Do you look back now that maybe that should have rung a few bells for you?

– If we had customers and clients who were dissatisfied or lost money, it could have been like this. But we made money – all the time. For a while we earned 50 øre for every krone we traded. If we were treated badly, I could have realized that we were going for closure, he says.

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– We felt safe

Rognstad has held various management positions since Kredinor. She also had staff responsibilities:

– When we heard that we were going to merge, we were a little scared at the beginning because we were afraid of merging with a big American company. But we heaved a sigh of relief when we heard about the tie-up with Krediner. We felt safe. We were supposed to be the biggest in Norway, but it turned out to be stupid, he says.

– At that time, he was the department manager of a team of 12 people who worked in several banks:

– 10 out of 12 of us worked together for 14 years. We were good at work, only retirees left work. We were like a family. We had a unique expertise. We also had our own lawyers, he says.

Someone got a “privilege”.

Those born between 1958 and 1962 can stay with the agency until they turn 62 and leave the AFP, he says:

– All the juniors were dismissed. We old people also had to sign resignations with a deadline to quit on our 62nd birthday. At our age, embarking on a day trip to Oslo is not glamorous.

– What happened to the other players?

– Three seniors from the banking industry I worked with will continue to travel to Oslo until they are 62. None of them are happy – even if we say they can sit in a home office four days a week. But how does that work out? We are used to a good working environment! I don't want to sit and work alone. Most of us need the company of those around us, he says.

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– Don't care too much

Most of those laid off have found new jobs. He believes this underscores that the defunct department had a lot of talented professionals.

– What about you – What are you doing until April 30?

– I don't know anything. We were treated so badly in Hamar that I didn't know if I wanted to do so much in my last four months.

– But what are you going to do in the next few months?

– I do not know. I have been recommended to assist the new Head of Department for Banking in Oslo. They don't know the system we used at Hamar, which will eventually be replaced by the new system.

– Not to Oslo

– Do you need to go to Oslo to help the new head of department?

– I am not going to travel to Oslo voluntarily. Then they had to drag me into the office. I have never worked in Oslo. Why should I do it now – just weeks before I retire? I've been thrown off a train and I'll deal with it. Until I reach 62 I feel I can contribute more. I know my subject and I like to work. Now I don't want to leave my work life.

– You are clearly angry – What made you so angry?

– If they had done it the other way, it would have been completely different. The resignation letter I had to sign stated that the layoff was due to downsizing. After that, they hired 80 new people in the Oslo office. They themselves said in the public meeting!

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– Call me childish, but …

– But surely it is right that you have been offered to continue in your job in Oslo until you are 62 years old?

– It is true that I can work together for a long time. But that “offer” came after I had to sign a severance agreement. I know they really need me and my expertise. That's what they said. But I don't want to go back to that company.

– Isn't this an exaggeration – many people lose their jobs without offering to continue elsewhere?

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– They ask me to sign my resignation first. Then they say you can join if you want. You may say I am childish, but this goes to my pride. They must have thought beforehand that they really needed my expertise. After firing me, they came back in the fall and said they wanted me. They have hired so many newbies without giving us oldies any concessions, she concludes:

– More people react than me and call it ageism.

Digitization and strategy

– The changes at Hamar are part of a larger transformation at Krediner to ensure that healthy operations are embraced and promoted. The time that has passed since the changes were announced shows that changing our system is right. Most of the big financial institutions go through similar processes sooner or later. Digitalization and strategic changes require different systems than before, communications director John Berge (53) tells HA in Krediner.

He commented on the case by phone and email.

– Kristin Rognstad says that the employees – and the local administration – were deceived into thinking that they were investing in the sector because they received a new and expensive premises shortly before the closure. What do you say to that?

– It took a very short time from the decision to close until it was announced. One of the important things we did then was to protect older workers. Among other things, all employees between the ages of 59 and 62 were given the option to continue their work until the age of 62 so that they were still covered by the AFP scheme. Now, more than a year later, we see that most of the victims are safe – they have moved on to other jobs or are on their way to retirement as they continued in other positions at Kredinor.

– Understandably disappointed

– Kristin Rognstad has decades of experience in the Kredinor business. How does it make sense for an experienced employee and department head to issue such a critical statement?

– Christine is understandably frustrated. It can be experienced dramatically when working conditions change against one's wishes. The department at Hamar has done a good job and we continue to build on the foundation that was laid there as we prepare for the new term, John Berge at Grediner tells HA.

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Joshi Akinjide

Joshi Akinjide

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