Archive for the 'Westpac' Category

Gossip with gossip

We want to hear from you more each week, so will be regularly asking you to Gossip with Gossip – you can reply via email or on Finsec Members Facebook page…. This week, we particularly want to hear from anyone at Westpac who is experience issues with performance management processes – we have seen a spate of new problems with this. We also want to hear about more chair shortages. Following our story about a lack of seating for tellers at Westpac Paraparaumu, we’ve had lots of calls about this being a problem


Standing up for our rights – to sit down

Finsec members at Westpac Paraparaumu have won a basic right in the last few weeks which makes a huge difference to affected workers – the right to a seat at work.

The new branch design didn’t include seats for tellers, which was a major health and safety issue for those staff. Having a seat is even a right under legislation. . Health and safety rep Ellen Mitchell says the problems were numerous. “We were on our feet all day and in constant pain – back pain, knee pain you name it. Even customers would make sympathetic comments about us having to stand all day on the job.”

Complaints were made and the bank was looking into all sorts of complicated solutions – but dragged their feet when it came to providing chairs. A letter on behalf of Finsec members seemed to do the trick however, with the much longed-for chairs arriving with no fanfare.

“We are so happy now,” said Ellen. “This makes a big difference – and our customers are also relieved we don’t have to stand all day.”

Westpac is not the only bank where there’s been an issue with lack of chairs. If this is an issue for you, make sure you contact Finsec.

Outcomes of Westpac management/union forum

On Monday and Tuesday the Union Council met with Westpac senior management to raise and work though concerns around staffing levels among other things. Early next week Westpac members will be provided a briefing on the outcomes of this forum and will get to participate in deciding where to from here.

To-do lists for Westpac members and BNZ call centre staff

We’re well and truly into union activity mode for the week, with an online survey for Westpac staff, and a collective activity for people at BNZ call centres.

Westpac staffers have until next Thursday to give their feedback on key issues in the leadup to the quarterly forum with the bank on Feb 20-21.

There’s a very quick online survey for all Westpac staff to complete here.  It includes questions about the freedom to take leave when it suits, and how staffing levels are working, particularly in the wake of LOM restructuring.

For BNZ call centre staff, the issue is incentive payments. The bank is proposing to make 50% of incentive payments dependent on the results of a customer survey, a move that Finsec members believe is extremely unfair. Call 0800 FINSEC or email if you haven’t received the NPS “thought bubble” activity.

And if you have received it – do fill it out! These need to faxed ASAP to (09) 358 5578.

Finsec challenges Westpac and wins on sick leave issue

A switched-on Finsec member at Westpac has helped to clarify the issue of sick leave entitlements for staff returning from parental leave.

The member in question was informed by the bank that she had used all her sick leave and that future leave may be unpaid – but rang the Department of Labour and clarified that she had been accruing sick leave entitlement during her parental leave.

Next, she got on the phone to Finsec Legal Organiser Grace Liu who was able to confirm this fact, and challenged the bank to make sure their internal policies stacked up against legal entitlements. The bank now acknowledged that they were in the wrong, and the member now has the correct sick leave balance.

Grace Liu said the case showed the importance of questioning management decisions, especially as the member was informed in writing without consultation about her leave entitlements. “The initiative this member took meant we were able to support her to a successful outcome. Some other members are coming forward with similar issues, that we can now fix right across the bank.”

Unemployed present human face to bankers

Unemployed workers in Wellington did a tour of banks – the Reserve Bank, Westpac, ANZ and BNZ to show the human side of unemployment.

After a BNZ economist said that unemployment was ‘artificially low’, unemployed people wanted to send a message that job loss was devastating for families and communities – and more than a statistic.

Finsec General Secretary Andrew Casidy said that banks needed to show an interest in employment. “They can show this through their own employment practices, by investing in jobs when their profits are rising and not sending jobs offshore. They can also show this to their customers with fair interest rates.”

“The banks need to recognise the human cost of unemployment,” said Casidy.

2010 pay, 1989 lifestyle

Westpac CEO George Frazis continued to be on the receiving end of some more less than favourable media attention last weekend, in the wake of revelations that he is New Zealand’s highest paid executive.

The Herald published a story titled “Bank chief parties like it’s 1989”, including reports that Frazis shed his shirt at a recent Christmas party to reveal a superman-style W on his midriff, spurned the Moet for pricier Veuve Clicquot, and lives in a rented multi-million dollar mansion on Paritai Drive.

$5.59 million Westpac CEO salary package unethical

One of the big news stories of this week was the revelation of Westpac CEO George Frazis’s  salary package of $5.59 million, the largest in New Zealand corporate history according to the New Zealand Herald.

Finsec described the pay package as unethical  especially as the economy falters and average workers have had no or limited wage growth.

The New Zealand Herald reported that this figure seemed to have set a new record for executive pay in New Zealand, well ahead of the CEOs of Fonterra and Telecom. “This pay package raises serious questions about the need for executive salary controls in New Zealand,” said Finsec Campaigns Director Andrew Campbell. “Regulators should also be concerned about pay packages that have high levels of short term rewards in them.”

“While Westpac staff did receive a pay increase this year it came after a significant campaign following a zero offer. It looks like George Frazis didn’t have to argue with the bank’s board the way we argued with his HR team to win a reasonable pay deal,” said Campbell.

Finsec’s comments were echoed by Finance Minister Bill English who said “In the current environment while many bank customers are struggling and banks are making good profits, the bank will need to explain to those customers why it is paying this amount to its chief executive officer.”

Finsec has called on English to back up his concern with action – joining in the Australian plan to introduce regulations to rein in corporate excess.

Bank profits soar while economy crawls

With a massive resurgence in profits that significantly outperforms growth in the rest of the economy it is time for the Australian banks to sign up to a Better Banking Charter, Finsec said today. The big four Australian owned banks posted profits of nearly $2 billion in the last financial year.

Both Finsec and its sister union the Finance Sector Union of Australia are calling on the banks to sign up to our Better Banking Charter to increase accountability for the sector.

“In Australia these banks are facing customer and community outrage over interest rate and fee gouging and massive CEO bonuses. It is time to set some fair rules to ensure that we don’t see more of these tricks in New Zealand,” said Finsec Campaigns Director Andrew Campbell.

“The charter sets out what the average Kiwi would consider fair. That banks don’t increase interest rates more than they have to and that jobs are not sent overseas or cut while profits rise,” said Campbell.

Finsec taking legal action on Westpac non-member offer

This week, Finsec will file legal papers to challenge Westpac’s offer to non-members. The legal action is to ensure that members are treated fairly and equitably.

“Westpac’s offer to non-members will create unnecessary confusion for staff and managers. It will result in staff being on different pay ranges and different pay systems, even though they are doing the same job,” said Westpac Union Councillor Craig McKinnon. “So much for Westpac’s ‘One Team’ policy!”

“As union members, we win pay rises and other improvements because we work together and act as a group. It’s important that we continue to do this in the face of this offer to non-members.”

Finsec is arguing that the offer Westpac has made to non-members is unlawful as it breaches good faith as Westpac would not offer a higher up-front pay increase to members during collective agreement negotiations and because it discriminates against union members because for a period, it initially provides a bigger increase and salary to staff if they are not union members.

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