Archive for the 'Workload' Category

BNZ staff organise to win!

Finsec members at BNZ in Harbour Quays and Quay Park Contact Centres got active around the issues of increasing all queue times and understaffing and had a great win at the end of last year.

Staff at these sites signed a petition asking the bank to look at some initiatives including employing part-timers at peak periods, and received confirmation before Christmas that the bank was planning to do just that, and that 14 new staff were coming on board in January.

Delegate Jay Coats said that staff in Harbour Quays had an especially tough time on Mondays and Tuesdays. “Staffing was just not up to par to cover the workload at the beginning of the week – and we all experienced a very stressful start to the beginning of each week.”

Jay said that the bank’s announcement of the changes had been met by a sigh of relief by all staff, and that it was important that all staff recognised the role of Finsec in instigating these improvements through the petition. Jay said union members would keep a close eye on workloads in the Contact Centres.


BNZ Staffing Group meets


The BNZ group to address staffing levels at the bank had their first meeting on Tuesday 18 March. Finsec representatives gave a presentation on the results of the survey members filled in late last year on the impact of staffing levels, and the Better Banks Agenda for Change goals. The bank gave a presentation on different aspects of their business and community activities. 

After the meeting, the BNZ Union Council met to discuss solutions to the problems created by current staffing levels and to provide a BNZ specific element to the Better Banks Agenda for Change goals.


Finsec will be forwarding the outcomes of this discussion to form the basis of ongoing dialogue on staffing issues, which will be resumed in another meeting scheduled to take place in April.


Flexible Work Long Overdue in Banks

kedgley_s.jpgFinsec is welcoming the passage of the Flexible Working Arrangements Bill and is looking forward to seeing real improvements in work / life balance for bank staff.

The new legislation establishes a new employment right which will allow any employee with responsibilities to care for children, dependent or disabled adults, or whanau, to seek to vary their hours or place of work.

Workers can ask to change their start and finish times, adjust their work hours, work compressed hours, seek to work from home or request any other flexible arrangement that will help them meet their other commitments. Employers must take these requests seriously and try to accommodate them.

“In our industry, flexible work arrangements are not a reality for most employees. Greater access to flexible working arrangements will allow a better fit of work, family and other commitments and is an important step in creating ‘Better Banks’ in New Zealand,” said Andrew Casidy, Finsec General Secretary.

Finsec said the change provides a real challenge to employers to adapt to the new legislation and start making it work, and that unions would be working with employers to ensure a smooth transition to more flexible working arrangements.

“We look forward to working with the banks to ensure requests for flexible arrangements are being handled properly,” said Casidy. “We will be looking for evidence that work structures are changing to ensure the spirit of the new law is fully implemented on the ground.”

Hundreds of Finsec members signed letters supporting the bill and some members participated in a survey that was used to demonstrate the need for flexible working arrangements.

Finsec is a member of the Coalition for Flexible Work and has actively supported Sue Kedgley’s Bill. The union congratulates her on this important step for workers and their families.

The other side of target bonuses

targetsThe recently released proposed new sales targets at BNZ have one aspect that has not attracted much discussion so far, and it is probably because it is so normal that we take it for granted.   So let’s take a second look.   Why do the bonus payments go so high? – up to 400%.Let’s take a look at sales targets for Banking Advisers for example.   A BNZ Banking Adviser at 100% of her or his salary earns $47,743 before getting any incentive payments.

But it is possible for her or him to earn a further $28,000 in incentive payments if she or he sells 400% of their target.

$28,000 on top of your salary sounds fairly good.   Good that is until you realise that the bank has just got the equivalent of four people’s sales done by paying just over 1.5 salaries; a saving to the bank of $115,000 if you follow our logic.

A Banking Advisor who ‘merely’ does the sales work of two people saves the bank nearly $36,000.

Finsec believes the BNZ’s strategy to increase profits at the moment is working because workers do not realise how much free work they are doing for the bank.   Currently many do a second, third or fourth person’s sales job at a fraction of the cost that it could cost the bank to hire new staff.We all know targets keep increasing to drive greater sales and profit for the bank.   When you add increasing targets to decreasing staff levels over recent years you create extra workload. Targets are placing significant pressure on staff to sell more and more products in an increasingly competitive and tight market.

(thanks to chadmill for the photo)

One third of BNZ worksites lost 2 or more staff last year

LonelyLast month Finsec conducted a survey of staffing levels and workload in the BNZ. The nationwide survey of 359 BNZ staff asked staff to quantify and describe how staffing had changed in their worksite.   It also asked the amount of paid and unpaid overtime they did for the bank.

In the last financial year BNZ staff numbers fell by 212.   In the same period the bank grew its profit and its business, and processed more work.So, it is not surprising that some of the survey results included:

  • 44% of staff said that staff levels at their worksite had decreased over the past year.
  • 33% said that staff levels at their worksite had decreased by 2 or more people.
  • 25% of BNZ staff said they worked unpaid overtime every one or two weeks.
  • 17% said that they were unable to take their morning tea, afternoon tea or lunch breaks most days of the week.   A further 17% said they were unable to take these breaks an average of once every 1 or 2 weeks.

Some of the comments from survey respondents were:

  • “For 12 months we had no casual staff, so part time workers had to work full time.”
  • “Their problem is they can’t get staff to stay, always changing/leaving.”
  • “We are continually training new staff and never have enough cover for sickness or leave.”

Clause 6.4 of BNZ’s Collective Agreement reads:

The Bank is committed to ensuring that employees are able to balance their work and personal lives satisfactorily…   The Bank will monitor workloads to ensure that regular and/or excessive additional hours of work are not required.

The best way to for BNZ enforce its collective agreement commitment about workload in clause 6.4 (and also clauses 7.6 and 7.8) is to increase staffing.

(thanks to J L M for the photo)

BNZ staff consider staffing and workload

QuestionThe BNZ Collective Employment Agreement (CEA) currently says some good things and so Finsec has decided to find out how true those values are reflected in people’s actual working lives. It has instigated a simple 4 tick survey that all BNZ staff can fill in over the next fortnight.

For instance the CEA says:

“Clause 7.6: Neither you nor the Bank can agree to more than 37.5 hours being worked in any week without overtime applying.”

So Finsec is asking often do BNZ workers work in excess of 37.5 hours per week and are paid or given time in lieu? (This might include staying late for 15-20 minutes to finish up.) And also how often do workers do overtime and are not paid or given time in lieu?

According to clause 7.8 of the BNZ CEA full time staff are entitled to an unpaid 1 hour break and two paid 10 minute breaks.

So, how often are staff unable to take their entitlement of breaks?

And, finally, The BNZ CEA reads:

“Clause 6.4: The Bank is committed to ensuring that employees are able to balance their work and personal lives satisfactorily… The Bank will monitor workloads to ensure that regular and/or excessive additional hours of work are not required.”

But between 2005 and 2006 BNZ staff numbers fell by 214. In the same period the bank grew its profit and its business and processed more work.

So, how has staffing on individual branches and worksites changed in the last year?

(thanks to Tal Bright for the photo)

Kiwis work second longest hours in the world

OverworkThis week’s Listener has a story by Linley Boniface on the amount of overwork New Zealanders are doing. Per capita New Zealanders work more than 1300 hours per year, second only in the OECD to Icelanders, who work 1500. Boniface notes that 19% of New Zealanders work more than 50 hours a week, 40% have variable hours of work, 18% do shift work and about a quarter work some hours at night. And, no, the survey she is quoting did not only talk to finance workers! Boniface did however talk to one South Island finance worker at a large lending support unit:

“The management seems very reluctant to replace the people who leave, so the workload is now far too great for the number of people we have. There are no peaks and troughs any more – it’s all peaks… A lot of my colleagues work overtime in the evenings, and come in for four or five hours in the weekend to try to get the workload down to a manageable level for the following week. Even the people who have OOS are asked to work overtime, which I think is awful.”

Finsec, along with many other community organisations is campaigning to change New Zealand’s overwork culture by supporting the Flexible Working Hours Bill currently before Parliament. The bill give workers the right to negotiate more flexible working hours with their employers.

(Thanks to Ben Harris-Roxas for the photo)

AMI members seeking more medical insurance and 5% pay rise

New GlassesFinsec members at AMI are meeting next week to discuss their and AMI’s claims for employment negotiations.

At meetings earlier in the year Finsec members identified four key issues that they wanted resolved at this year’s negotiations; staffing and workloads, pay, medical insurance and eye wear.

Finsec members will be seeking a 5% pay rise for a one year term, an increase the company medical scheme subsidy to $500 per annum effective after two years, and that AMI meets the costs of prescription eye-wear.

Finsec members have also raised for discussion with AMI issues around workloads and staffing. Workloads have increased with a number of staff working unpaid overtime to accommodate the business requirements, and also an inability to take annual leave. They would like to know what steps AMI have put in place to address the increase in annual leave as well as the growth in business (i.e. employing extra staff, relief staff to cover to all leave absences, etc).

Meanwhile AMI has now given its claims to Finsec. These include a salary offer of 4% for 2007 and 3.75% for 2008 subject to agreement to a two year term. It will also be seeking to remove 6 job roles from collective coverage: Call Centre Team Leader, Call Centre Team Leader Support, Accounting Services Officer, Information Support Help Desk, Computer Operations and Administration, Call Centre Training and Development Officer.

Negotiations are scheduled for 1-2 May.

(thanks to vapours for the photo)

South Korean bank union calls for earlier closing times

Seoul, South KoreaThe Korea Financial Industry Union (KFIU), which represents 37 smaller finance unions, is claiming that banks should close at 3:30pm instead of 4:30. According to The Chosun Ilbo the claim is likely to be the major issue during this year’s collective bargaining with the Korea Federation of Banks starting early next month.

“A KFIU official claimed bank staff often work into the night and get home late due to leftover work after the branches close at 4:30pm If banks closed at 3:30pm, bank staff would be able to return home at 7pm, the official said. He added advancing closing time would also enable banks to save wages on overtime work. The union says shortening business hour will not inconvenience customers unduly due to the spread of online banking and automated teller machines.”

The Chosun Ilbo however reports widespread customer and bank dissatisfaction with the claim, stating: “The lazy complaints of the KFIU only remind us that our financial industry is still living inside a greenhouse, protected from the elements.” It also says though that “these days, when competition is getting stiffer, it is becoming harder to survive unless a bank is open longer, even if that requires more workers.”

Hmm, more workers…

ANZ boss stresses the value of time for family

AFR story on John McFarlaneThe Australian Financial Review Magazine’s March edition (subscription required) has a profile piece on ‘Australia’s best banker’, the guitar playing, zen spiritualist, CEO of ANZ Bank, John McFarlane.

In it McFarlane articulates an approach to employee relations and workload, which sounds pretty good to us;

“Many people will invest their whole lives in this company [ANZ]. We have to create the kind of company that is worthy of that investment. In doing that, two things come to mind. First, it is wrong of us to say that we want that investment exclusively for us in the company and to ignore the other areas of life, including family and spirituality – the maturity of an individual in a spiritual, psychological, evolutionary sense. Second, people ask me about work/life balance. And I say it is the wrong question. Get a life, and fit work in there somewhere. Work should be a meaningful part of your life.”

AFR continues, noting that McFarlane “actively discourages meetings; he sees no benefit from micro management and extra layers of oversight. “People will say ‘I want to see you’ and I will say ‘What about?’ and they’ll say this and I’ll say ‘I’m happy for you to get on with it,’ he explains.”

In three months Finsec members at ANZ National Bank will be negotiating employment issues including workload, work life balance and competency assessments.

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