Archive for the 'Australia' Category

Big bank switch

Thousands of Australian mortgage holders have registered for the Choice Big Bank Switch, to get a better deal on their mortgage.  The consumer advocate organisation launched the switch this week (www.bigbankswitch.com) to negotiate better bank deals using the group to gain purchasing power  – power that large companies and millionaires enjoy every day.

Christopher Zinn from Choice said the interest showed how many people wanted to get a better deal on their mortgage. “The message to banks is loud and clear that ordinary mums and dads want to get their voice heard, and they are willing to switch together in order to get a better deal.”

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$20 billion profit not enough – Aussie banks recommence offshoring programme

Apparently even $20 billion annual profit is not enough, with Australian banks looking to cut costs by moving jobs offshore.  Westpac is sending 100 jobs to India, and ANZ has 150 jobs in its sights, likely to be sent to the Philippines.

Delegates from Finsec’s sister union the FSU met this week and adopted an urgent motion condemning the offshoring and calling on the banks to commit to Australian jobs. National Secretary Leon Carter said “The facts are clear; the more money employees make for our big banks the more harshly they’re treated by their employer. Whether it’s ramped up sales targets or the threat of losing their jobs to cheaper labour overseas, bank executives are consumed with bottom line results with little regard for workers or bank customers.”

Kiwi bank workers need to keep a close eye on these developments. As well as supporting our colleagues over the Tasman, we don’t want to see bad employment practices copied here.

Offshoring not the answer

Westpac Australia CEO Gail Kelly has said that the bank will again look at offshoring Australian jobs, because unemployment is low, skills are at a premium and that it will “improve service”.

Finance Sector Union Secretary Leon Carter says that these reasons hid the real truth, which is “all about cutting costs to increase already massive profits at the expense of Australian workers and customers.”

“The people who actually do the work in the banks, serving customers, know the truth.  They know that offshoring functions and jobs actually makes customer service worse. They are the ones that have to deal with the endless delays and errors that come back from outsourced, offshore processing areas.”

Most finance workers pushing products

Finsec’s sister union, the Finance Sector Union of Australia, released research this week that shows workers are under sustained pressure to sell financial products regardless of customer needs.

A survey of bank, insurance and financial services employees has found more than half have seen customers steered toward financial products that the customer may not have needed, in order to reach management driven performance targets.

“The ‘Do you want fries with that’ mentality is alive and well in the Australian finance sector, despite ballooning levels of personal debt. This approach is completely at odds with the notion of responsible lending and professional service,” said FSU National Secretary Leon Carter.

“The problem is not the finance sector workforce but the upper echelons of our big banks and insurers, who hold employees to ransom on the condition that they sell more products. Woe betide any employee that doesn’t sell the required number of credit cards, loans or whatever the product of the month is. They won’t just miss out on the next pay rise, they might also lose their job.”

Female staff banking on a smaller wage

Last week, we reported on Equal Pay Day and the campaign to address the 12.4% gap between what men and women are paid for each hour they work. This week, the Gossip came across updated statistics on the gap in the finance industry in Australia.
Women in the finance industry get paid an average 32.1 percent less than men, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics. This gap has increased on the 28.5% gap in 2009.

Banking and finance was the worst sector for unequal gap at nearly double the industry average of 16.9%. Information on the gap for our sector is not available for New Zealand – but if it is similar to Australian, women staff at our banks could be 25% behind male staff in terms of pay.

Its OK – or is it?

Finsec representatives at ANZ National are using the upcoming quarterly forum to make sure that the “Its OK” campaign – where Finsec members make sure we have access to our rights at work – has not exposed gaps in staff being able to access their rights.

The campaign focussed on unpaid overtime, challenging ‘C’ ratings, and accessing our union rights, such as time to do delegate duties and an opportunity to talk with new staff about joining our union. Members have been asked for feedback if there are any issues about accessing these rights, and also about the standing agenda items of staffing, overtime and training.

If you’re at ANZ National, make sure you get you feedback in by Wednesday 23 February.

Try Aussie banking reforms here, says Finsec

Finsec said this week that Australian banking reforms should be extended across the ditch. The Australian chances include giving customers one-page documents outlining how to compare mortgages and investigating account number portability. The objectives of the changes are to make it easier to change banks, and increase competition.

Finsec General Secretary Andrew Casidy told Business Day the government here should follow suit, and that our union had advocated for a public body to be established to provide objective advice to customers.

“Whether we realise it or not the relationship between customers and banks is one of the most expensive transactions in our lives, but it’s actually very hard to get good comparative information,” said Andrew Casidy.

“Establish future banking environment” union tells bank inquiry

Finsec’s sister union, the Finance Sector Union of Australia, told a Senate Inquiry this week that greater competition will not fix every problem in the banking industry.

“Banking is integrated into our ability as citizens to function in modern society, and it is impossible for Australians to opt out of the banking system. It is up to Government to ensure the system operates fairly and equitably for all Australians,” said FSU National Secretary Leon Carter.

Carter said that there was a real thirst for change amongst consumers and bank staff. “While key aspects of the type of changes sought have been picked up by Government – exit fees, switching, responsible lending initiatives such as credit card reform and better product information – the behaviour and culture of our big banks need to be reined in by a regulatory regime.”

New alliance formed to fight for integrity in finance

Finsec’s sister union, the Finance Sector Union of Australia, has today been part of the launch of a new watchdog for the financial system. The Australian Financial Integrity Network (AusFIN) is a broad network of organisations to promote, educate and advocate for changes it wants the Australian Government to adopt as part of its banking reforms.

Among its members are superannuation lobbyist Industry Super Network, consumer group Choice and the Australian Council of Trade Unions. AusFIn says it wants a financial system that functions in “an accessible, affordable and fair manner reflecting its status as an essential service.”

The network says that retail banks and superannuation providers should only levy fees and charges reflecting their actual costs.

ANZ Australia staff approve new collective agreement

A lot has changed since 1998. Back then we were listening to Savage Garden and Shania Twain, and watching Armageddon and There’s Something About Mary at the movies. 1998 was also the last time that ANZ staff in Australia had a new collective agreement – until this week!

FSU members have just approve a new agreement which provides for pay increases up to 4% for 2011 and 2012, adjustments to minimum rates, 12 weeks parental leave in addition to statutory leave, and access to arbitration on rostering, hours and location of work arrangements.

FSU National Secretary Leon Carter said they were delighted that after 12 years there is a new agreement in place for the 24,000 ANZ employees in Australia. “Of course, after such a long freeze, the thawing process has had its difficulties, but we welcome the positive attitude adopted by ANZ in recognising their employees’ desire for a new collective agreement and in their conduct in negotiations.”


You can contact us at:

0800 FINSEC (0800 346 732)
union@finsec.org.nz
www.finsec.org.nz


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