Archive for the 'Overseas Unions' Category

Banks made ‘essential industry’ in Fiji

Bank workers are facing the tough end of anti-union policies in Fiji, with banking deemed an ‘essential industry’, a move which effectively outlaws trade unions.

The decree means that industry-based unions will not be able to function, as union staff members won’t be recognised, only employees of designated corporations. Collective agreements are being deemed to have expired, and employers will be able to impose unilateral reductions in terms and conditions. Employers are also not required to deduct union fees.

Finsec is participating in the CTU campaign to end the bullying and harassment of Fiji union officials, and to support democracy in the country.


Jobs central to pulling world economy out of danger zone

UNI, the global union of which Finsec is a member, is calling on the G20 meeting of world leaders to put jobs at the centre of an economic recovery programme.

UNI General Secretary Philip Jennings said “Workers’ rights and job creation are key to a recovery. President Obama had it right when he said that collective bargaining should be part of a drive towards a fairer and more just economy. However, the reality is that the G20’s negligent procrastination and limited ambition has once again opened the door to greed and self-interest amongst the banking fraternity while tens of millions faced wage cuts, job losses, and poverty.”

UNI and other unions are calling on the G20 to set up a working group on employment and social protection, invest in infrastructure and green jobs and launch a youth pact guaranteeing young people quality employment and education.

$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.”

10 per cent of bank staff bound to fail

A staff member of Britain’s second biggest company, HSBC bank, bravely faced off their annual shareholders meeting with criticism of a staff appraisal system that automatically ranks 10% of staff as underperforming – regardless of their performance.

The system means 29,600 staff worldwide are labelled ‘underperforming’ each year.

These staff miss out on pay rises and bonuses, and are also more likely to be targeted for redundancy. Worker and union rep David Uren told the meeting that the system is outdated and urged the board to reform it.

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.”

“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.”

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.”

Aussie banks continue to lift interest rates

The major Australian banks are continuing to lift interest rates beyond Reserve Bank raises, a move the Finance Sector Union says will hit mortgage holders hard.

This week, the Reserve Bank lifted the Official Cash Rate by 25 basis points, a move quickly followed by the Commonwealth Bank of Australia raising their variable rate by 45 basis points.

FSU National Secretary Leon Carter said “Australians want better banking. And 82% think banks should not be permitted to raise rates above the Reserve Bank rate.” The figure comes from this week’s Essential Report which is also recorded strong support for capping CEO salaries, and tighter controls on sending personal data and Australian finance jobs offshore.

Time for banks to share the spoils

Finsec’s sister union the FSU has called on the big Australian banks to share the profits with those that provided it, the Australian community.

National Secretary Leon Carter says that the big profit announcements are a significant achievement when many parts of the rest of the world are still struggling with the global financial crisis.

“The next challenge is to ensure that our banks conduct their business in a manner the Australian public finds acceptable. FSU’s research shows that Australians have major concerns about fees and charges, existing debt levels, having debt products more freely available and the sending of jobs and customer information offshore.”

“The profitability of our banks does not have to be at the expense of jobs, or achieved through excessive fees, rates and charges. With proper regulation, we can have a far healthier bank sector,” said Carter.

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