Archive for the 'Working Conditions' Category

Campaign for better shifts get results

An ongoing campaign for fixed shifts at the ANZ Australian Call Centre in Wellington delivered results at mediation last week.

Finsec members agreed to put our legal case to the Employment Relations Authority on hold following the mediation. The understanding  is that the centre will move to fixed days of week with a small variability in start and finish times, that everyone would get input into the new roster system, and that there would be a fair process developed so staff could move to their preferred shift. This process is to be complete by March 2012.

The success shows the value of a campaign with various strands that members have supported over the last year. The issue has been raised at bargaining, been pursued through a working party with the bank, and through legal avenues. Most importantly, members have participated in collective activities, recruited their colleagues and kept the pressure up! Well done to all involved!


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.”

Finsec members take on human rights at BNZ

Finsec members have made an important change to the BNZ NPS system, after making a Human Rights complaint about concerns with the system. The NPS (net promoter score) means call centre staff’s pay is partly determined by customer feedback. The bank is now removing ‘detractor scores’ where customers make malicious or racist comments.

Finsec had raised the issue when the scheme was introduced, concerned that customer prejudices could materially affect staff pay, but the bank responded by saying “We would remove NPS scores on a case by case basis only. We have to acknowledge that some Customers prefer to speak with someone without a foreign accent and are entitled to their views.”

After Finsec raised the complaint with the Human Rights Commission some time ago, BNZ eventually agreed to the change.  Finsec communicated the change to members this week, as Finsec and the bank are still having discussions about the system.

Finsec Campaigns Director Tali Williams said that removing detractor scores for racist and malicious comments was important, but it was only a first step in ensuring that pay systems in the bank were fair for all staff. Finsec are considering ways to ensure that the inherent problems within NPS are addressed by the BNZ.

Westpac shows some movement on Chch targets

Finsec members’ campaign to get Westpac to let up the pressure on targets in Christchurch has finally had some success, with the adjustment of targets in the region. Staff are pleased that they have finally been listened to.

Finsec Campaigns Director Tali Williams said that the moves showed that staff standing together in the face of unfair targets pressure did have an impact. “Under the most difficult circumstances, staff are working together through Finsec for fairness, and having some success.”

“However, changes have come far too late for most staff under immense pressure this year,” said Tali Williams. “They are an improvement, but staff still have significant concerns around sales targets for insurances in particular. Westpac’s ‘business as usual’ approach following the earthquakes is a disappointment to both customers and staff.”

Williams said that staff did not accept that targets should return to normal in September, and that members would be discussing the next steps in their campaign for fairness this week.

Hey, BNZers!

BNZers, your detailed claims for bargaining will be released this week – keep an eye out.

While you’re waiting for those, you can take a few minutes to complete the survey for the targets forum coming up soon. The survey has been sent to all members, or you can download it here

There will also be a report back on results of the last forum released shortly.

Improvements to Westpac annual leave policy

Finsec members have had good success in securing improvements to Westpac’s annual leave policy requiring that staff take leave in a 2 week block.

While the two-week requirement remains in place, Westpac have responded to members’ concerns with significant improvements to the flexibility of their annual leave policy. Purchased leave and public holidays will be counted as part of the two weeks, and if staff take another absence of 2 weeks (such as parental or long service leave) there will be greater flexibility on the two week block. There will also be greater ability to exempt staff with caring responsibilities.

Finsec still wants to ensure that the 2 week requirement does not disadvantage staff. If you or any other staff member has been required to take their leave in a block against their wishes, please let us know. Call 0800 FINSEC or email

Finsec members pleased with some easing of targets pressure at ANZ National

Some Finsec members at ANZ National have reported that our messages to the banks about the stress and unachievable nature of targets have got through.

There are reports of some signs of positive change over recent weeks. Finsec Union Councillor David Baker said while the changes are a mixed bag, the bank has acknowledged the concerns raised about the change in market conditions, and the pressures that have been felt about lending.

“It is essential that Finsec members continue to give their feedback for targets forums and other processes – it does get back to the bank and is valued,” he said. “Of course non-members talk to members about targets too. It’s important that we challenge non-members about what feedback they have given the bank about their targets. We need to encourage them to join our union if they want to have a voice on targets pressure.”

Targets continue to be an issue at ANZ National, and Finsec members will need to continue to raise their concerns. Recent improvements show how important it is that members provide information for our quarterly forum and continue to fight against unfair targets.

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.”

Targets pressure for Westpac Christchurch staff

Westpac staff in Christchurch will be meeting on Monday to discuss major pressure being placed on staff to meet targets despite the devastating earthquakes.

Finsec believes a survey of members in the region and an increase in the union helping members through performance management processes around targets show that the bank is operating as “business as usual” despite the impact of the quakes.

Hundreds of Finsec members at Westpac have already signed a petition supporting their Christchurch colleagues.

“Many members in Christchurch are finding life hard enough coping with the aftermath of the quake,” said Finsec General Secretary Andrew Casidy. “The unrealistic expectation that staff will meet target is adding insult to injury.”

Andrew Casidy has written to the bank twice about the issue and met with senior management, but says the bank has been unresponsive to the very real concerns members have raised and the urgency of the issue. “The meeting in Christchurch on Monday will be our opportunity to plan how to make the bank listen to its staff and lighten up on target expectations in Christchurch.”

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