Archive for the 'Vero Asteron and AA' Category

Bargaining newsflash

Of course its not just Finsec members in the big banks in bargaining this year – throughout the insurance and finance industry, Finsec members are working to improve their pay and conditions through collective bargaining.

So, here’s some of what else we’re up to:

·       Finsec members at Vero last week voted to ratify an offer including an average pay increase of 3%

·       Finsec members at Asteron participated in collective bargaining last week – a report back to come tomorrow

·       Finsec members at Sovereign enter negotiations tomorrow.

At Heartland Building Society (the merger between Marac, Southern Cross Building Society and CBS Canterbury), members will be having an indicative vote this year to determine members’ response to bargaining outcomes.


Unions – the ultimate insurance!

Finsec members from the insurance sector have met in Auckland and Wellington this week to plan for the year ahead and discuss important issues in the industry.

The meetings focused on how to increase Finsec’s profile in the industry, and to build our strength to achieve even better outcomes. Aki Kisona (pictured at left), a Finsec Union Councillor from Asteron, said the meeting provided a great opportunity for union members from throughout the sector to get together and talk through issues.

“The meeting showed that we’re all going through similar things at work, and that we share common views on how to improve things. We also generated a lot of good ideas about retention and increasing our membership,” said Aki.

Expect to see more Finsec news from the insurance industry in the new year, as ideas from the forums are put into action!

Our industry, our union – Finsec meetings for insurance members

Finsec members working in the insurance industry in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch will have an opportunity to get together and discuss industry-wide issues at paid union meetings in early December.

Here’s the places you need to be if this includes you (times include 30 minutes for travel to and from the meeting):


Date: Thursday 2 December

Time: 8.30am to 10.30am (meeting commences at 9.00am)

Venue: Pioneer Womens Hall, 2 Freyberg Place


Date: Wednesday 1 December

Time: 8.30am to 10.30am (meeting commences at 9.00am)

Venue: St Andrew’s on the Terrace, 30 The Tce


Date: Thursday 2 December

Time: 8.30am to 10.30am (meeting commences at 9.00am)

Venue: Trade Union Centre, 199 Armagh Street

If you have any questions about the insurance industry forums, ring 0800 FINSEC or email

5 weeks annual leave for Vero staff

Finsec members at Vero have narrowly voted to ratify a new Collective Agreement, by 59% to 41%. While there was some concern about the overall package of the agreement, it is good news that the company has agreed to offer the option of 5 weeks annual leave

With ratification now complete, members will be asked to decide whether to move to new leave provisions (including increased annual leave, and decreased sick and long service leave), or retain their existing provisions.

Asteron and Credit Union South trying to breathe life into discredited pay systems

Finsec is raising concerns that Asteron and Credit Union South are both attempting to revive the failed pay systems of the 1990’s, that remove’s Finsec members right to negotiate pay increases in collective bargaining and introducing pay bands instead of salary steps. Finsec members are considering proposals from both employers that in effect hand over all pay decisions to the bosses.

Finsec members favour a pay system with two significant components:
•    Negotiated pay increases through collective bargaining to cover increases in the cost of living or make other adjustments
•    Movement up pay steps on the basis of demonstration of skills (rather than the achievement of sales targets)
A third component would be additional payments on the basis of performance, but in our view this should comprise a minor proportion of overall pay.

Finsec General Secretary Andrew Casidy categorises Asteron and Credit Union South’s moves as a backward step. “These systems cede total control over pay to the employer and invariably lead to pay falling behind similar employers. We saw Westpac pay lag behind other banks in the 1990s due to this kind of pay system, and it is only now catching up after a complete overhaul of the way pay is determined.”

Lifetime membership for Finsec stalwart

With the bad news for workers in the ANZ retail sector, the Gossip is proud to bring you some good news. Long serving Finsec delegate Tom Loughman from Vero  was recognised this week with lifetime membership. Tom has worked in our industry for 48 years, and has been a union member for the last 38 of those years. He was with NZI for many years until he was made redundant and has been with AMP since 1999. Tom says he can’t stand injustice, and joined the union because of seeing mistreatment of both himself and his colleagues. “Joining Finsec helped solve a problem I had at work, and I then tried to look after my workmates too, and from then on I wouldn’t stand for any nonsense from the bosses!”

Tom says he was completely surprised and humbled to receive lifetime membership. “It brought home the length of time I’ve been in Finsec, and the tremendous satisfaction it has given me.”  Tom says he will treasure the Award for the rest of his life – and the feeling is mutual. Finsec treasures Tom as a loyal and hardworking delegate and friend to all.

Low membership at Asteron leads to low pay offer

Tattooed coffeeFinsec members at Asteron reluctantly agreed to ratify a substandard pay offer of only 2% from their employers last week. Asteron members found themselves in a weakened bargaining position because of their low membership density (only about 30% of Asteron staff belong either to Finsec or the staff association).

Finsec’s advocate for Asteron members believes that Asteron recognised its positions of strength and effectively made a take it or leave it offer, knowing that members would have little choice other than to take it given their low level of membership in the company. Asteron said at the negotiations that it wanted to position itself in the market medium for salaries and was not interested in paying in the top pay quartile for its industry.

Asteron’s pay is not that bad compared to some insurance companies that have no union members at all, but what this offer demonstrates is that where workers join and actively support their union, such as at Westpac earlier this year, they have much more influence on their working conditions than where they don’t join and assume everyone get the same deal anyway.

(thanks to YTaP for the photo)

Corporate Social Responsibility

Corporate Social Responsibility?One of the buzz phrases in the Australasian finance industry at present is corporate social responsibility.

Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) suggests that companies should consider not just the economic impact of their actions but also the social, employment and environmental impacts.

And as Attracta Lagan writes the stakes are huge:

“Business will determine the quality of the air we breathe, the fuel we burn, the food we eat and the water we drink. So too, it is business that will shape the emergence of a global society by determining who is included, who is informed, who gets what and which human rights are enshrined in the global workplace.”

The World Business Council for Sustainable Development defines CSR as “the continuing commitment by business to behave ethically and contribute to economic development while improving the quality of life of the workforce and their families as well as of the local community and society at large.”

One key element of CSR is ensuring that your workforce is treated fairly including fair pay and conditions, employment equity, occupational health and safety and work-life balance.

In the 1990s business leaders could get away with, or even be lauded for their blinkered focus on profits at the expense of all else. But these days more and more businesses, banks and finance companies included, are expected to work towards and report on their corporate social responsibilities. For instance here are the latest reports from Westpac, NAB, ANZ and Vero. Information in the NAB report helped Finsec identify serious staffing issues at the BNZ earlier this year.

So, as the Bill McKibben noted last year, all but the most recalcitrant multinationals are clambering to be seen as socially responsible corporates:

“Which is nice. The question is, what does it amount to?

“Take BP. In 2004, its revenues from solar power were almost $400 million; its total revenues, almost entirely from hydrocarbons, were $285 billion. In other words, the company has gone beyond petroleum to the tune of about one-sixth of 1 percent of sales.”

McKibben argues that we can’t leave the job of social responsibility to corporations to manage on their own. We need to use our political power as citizens to monitor them, to set them our own goals for what is acceptable and push them along:

“In fact, corporations are the infants of our society—they know very little except how to grow (though they’re very good at that), and they howl when you set limits. Socializing them is the work of politics. It’s about time we took it up again.”

(thanks to davescunningplan for the photo)

CEO salaries suggest support for substantial pay rises

Monopoly BoardThe most recent annual reports of some of New Zealand’s largest financial institutions suggest that they support substantial pay increases, at least in some situations.

For instance ANZ CEO John McFarlane received a AU$300,000 increase in his total remuneration package taking him to AU$7,209,922. His man in New Zealand, Graham Hodges, is recorded as being on a mere AU$2,148,468 total remuneration but that was before moving to New Zealand and taking over ANZ National.

National Australia Bank Managing Director JM Stewart received a 12.5% increase taking his total remuneration to AU$5,932,665 and his man in New Zealand, Peter Thodey (the CEO of BNZ), got a 32% increase, making his total remuneration package AU$2,262,240.

Westpac’s CEO, David Morgan, only got a 2.1% increase to his remuneration, but that AU$187,000 did lift his remuneration up to AU$9,133,730. Meanwhile Westpac’s New Zealand boss, Ann Sherry, got a 6.7% increase taking her remuneration to AU$2,597,829.

Michael Wilkins, the CEO of Promina Group which includes Vero, Asteron, Guardian Trust, Tyndall, AA Insurance, SIS, and others received a 22.3% increase lifting his remuneration package to $2,775,660.

(Thanks to Hector. for the photo)

The Matrix (…reloaded…)

Matrix core Save us Neo! Is it possible to have a nice simple cost of living pay increase without needing to plug it into a matrix, convolute it, complicate it and frame it in a manner that means many workers will struggle to advance through the pay scale? Westpac started the pay matrix craze in the New Zealand finance industry. Recently IAG jumped on the bandwagon and now Vero wants to have a go. Finsec members at Vero are currently meeting and voting on a negotiation proposal from Vero for a 20 month agreement, with a 2.6% increase for the first 8 months and then the introduction of a pay matrix for the next 12 months which is explained in more depth here… Confused. So am I. As Morpheus says: “Unfortunately, no one can be told what the Matrix is. You have to see it for yourself.”

(Thanks to Pixilior for the photo)

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