Archive for the 'Banks and Financial Services' Category

Bargaining with BNZ adjourned

Bargaining with BNZ was adjourned last week, as the Finsec team wanted to go back to members to seek feedback. The outcomes of bargaining so far fall short of the mandate set by members.

Union Councillor Tania Cooper said the offer fell short on two areas: the pay, and the bank still pushing to reduce current terms and conditions of staff. “With regards to pay the BNZ is currently not even willing to meet CPI – let alone keeping up with what some other banks are offering.”

Tania said there had been movement on some of the bank’s series of claims, but that the balance was still in favour of the bank’s operations and shareholders, and against staff. “If this is the bank for New Zealand, that includes staff. Staff want the bank to show some flexibility to meeting our needs not just their own.”

Some non-members at the bank didn’t sign up to Finsec in the lead up to bargaining because they didn’t believe BNZ would seriously pursue these changes. Last week’s negotiations show they are serious. Those who oppose the bank’s proposed changes need to join to support the Finsec campaign. Finsec members were able to stop reductions in their terms and conditions in 2009 and can do it again.

Finsec members at BNZ will be holding meetings over the next few weeks to discuss bargaining and our next steps.


Customers want better staffing too!

The Sunday Star-Times annual survey of bank customers show that customers share many of the same concerns as bank staff, particularly a need for a focus on customer service rather than debt sales.

Customers identified adding more personal service staff, reducing queues, and having phone access to staff as important priorities. All of these align very strongly with Finsec member campaigns for increased staffing and relief cover.

Finsec Campaigns Director Tali Williams said despite being some of New Zealand’s most profitable companies, the big banks continue to keep staffing levels at the bare minimum. “Staff aren’t replaced, small restructurings take place that reduce staff numbers, and existing staff are put under more and more pressure to keep up.”

“Customers experience understaffing as poor customer service. Staff experience this as unpaid overtime, inability to take sick leave or holidays, and increasing stress in the workplace leading to health and safety complaints.”

Town mints own money

A small town in Italy is going independent – and printing its own money to protest the government austerity cuts. Fillettino has a population of 550, but is making a big splash trying to set up itself up as a principality. The town’s currency is called the “Fiorito” and features a picture of the mayor on the back. Apparently the new money is already being used by townsfolk. Central government in Rome has not commented on the moves.

Profit surge at ANZ National

A  45% in underlying profits in the last 9 months is even more of a reason that staff should not be disadvantaged by the potential demise of the National Bank, said Finsec Campaigns Director Tali Williams. The after tax profits of the bank have increased by 19% for the same period, to $735 million.

Williams said that ANZ National staff have responded brilliantly to the questions arising from the review of our collective agreement. “Staff from ANZ and National bank are speaking with one voice when it comes to the change.”

“They want both staff and customers to be treated fairly,” said Williams. “The massive increase in profits over the last year, despite recessionary conditions and earthquakes, means the bank won’t have a leg to stand on if it wants to cut jobs or services in the future.”

The report back from members is currently being collated in readiness for the next phase of the campaign.

50 times your pay

A Business Day survey found that top chief executives are paid as much as 50 times as much as their average employees, and that the best paid was Telecom CEO Paul Reynolds with $4.7 million per annum. That’s 51 times the estimated company average for Telecom staff.

In case you’re wondering, that’s over $90,000 gross per week for Paul Reynolds. Or, much more than most of us will earn for the whole year. Now we know why our cell phone bills are so high!

Financial Summit must lead to action, not more talk

Finsec General Secretary Andrew Casidy said the Government Financial Summit, which he attended this week, must lead to action on loan sharks and not just more talk.

“Finsec members have seen the negative impact of people getting into debt they can’t afford to repay, even in the big banks and credit unions. The wild west of unregistered, unregulated loans sharks charging interest rates of several hundred percent is preying on the poorest and most vulnerable New Zealanders.”

Casidy said that legislation is urgently needed to ensure all lending is responsible. “While there was positive discussion at the Summit, it needs to be followed up with practical solutions for people being victimised by loan sharks. And we also need legislation requiring responsible lending right across the finance industry.”

Bad bosses lead to brain drain

A leading economist says bad managers in New Zealand are a significant contributor to our brain drain, driving young workers overseas.

Auckland University’s Dr Rhema Vaithianathan said Kiwi bosses are strikingly bad, among the worst in the world for their inability to recruit, promote and retain goof staff. She said our managers were poorly qualified and need better training, and that they are overly optimistic about their own performance.

National Bank demise closer than ever with big job changes signaled?

ANZ retail staff were informed this week that their jobs are to be restructured, in order that they be more closely aligned with National Bank jobs.

In response to Finsec’s media comment, the bank stated publicly that redundancies wouldn’t be a feature of the change, a commitment they refused to make as part of the review the staff collective agreement.

Andrew Casidy said that the bank had tried many times to minimise the changes as a simple re-branding exercise. “We are very concerned that the move will have much more of an impact than just different signs and letterhead. ANZ National are an extremely profitable company, and they will have a hard time convincing New Zealanders that there is any case to cut jobs or service to customers.”

Finsec members will be engaged in a collective response to the proposed restructuring over the coming weeks, and are also currently holding report back meetings on the outcomes of the CEA review.

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 ( 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.”

BNZ’s plan to remove staff rights

The BNZ have put forward a series of claims for bargaining that Finsec representatives say would seriously diminish the work rights of every staff member at the bank. Finsec Union Council Chair Callum Francis described the claims as aggressive, and that they seriously tilt the playing field in favour of management.

The bank’s claims include:
No restrictions on opening hours
No minimum shift span in the contact centre
Requiring staff to provide a medical certificate on the first day
of sickness
Make it harder for members to access your union
The power to alter your start/finish times by two hours without your agreement on a temporary basis
The power to send you to another workplace at any time without your agreement

Callum said that the bank can already do many of the things contained in their claims, but that they are currently required to consult with affected staff. “BNZ’s claims turn a conversation about your hours and place of work into a demand. They show no consideration for work-life balance, despite their previous position that this is a priority.”

Callum says it is essential that Finsec members at every BNZ store hold pre-negotiations meetings, which run over the next two weeks, to formulate a plan to ensure that staff retain the right to say no to unreasonable demands.  Back office and call centre meetings will be run by Finsec organisers.

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