The Guardian February 21, 2001


ANZ workers to fight bank's attack on conditions

by Andrew Jackson

The ANZ bank has entered a new round of enterprise bargaining talks without 
even mentioning a pay rise for its workers, instead launching an attack on 
holidays, collective bargaining and employee privacy.

The Finance Sector Union (FSU) went to the bargaining table last Tuesday 
claiming a 15 percent payrise over two years from ANZ, in line with the 
claims made against Westpac and NAB.

Without even proposing a counter pay offer, the bank issued a list of nine 
key demands that would take employees' pay and conditions back to the early 
20th century.

Firstly, the bank wanted to redefine the term "normal working hours", 
stretching it by three hours per day to reduce penalty rates paid to shift 
workers. The bank also wants to remove the 17.5 percent annual leave 
loading, and have the right to partially pay out long service leave.

ANZ is also demanding the right to subject workers to a medical review by a 
company doctor for a second opinion if they take sick leave. A move which 
suggests the bank feels it knows more about illness than a worker's GP, and 
is an attack on the fundamental right of an employee's privacy.

The bank is also wants to remove "acting up" pay for employees temporarily 
filling more senior positions.

Under the current agreement, an employee already must work in the more 
senior position for 80 days before they see an extra cent for his or her 
effort.

The new provision sought by ANZ would allow the bank to second workers into 
more senior positions indefinitely, without ever having to having to give 
them a pay rise.

Another target in the bank's sights are bank managers  although the ANZ 
made a desperate attempt to break their solidarity with the union by 
offering managers lucrative individual contracts. More than 60 percent of 
managers in general banking rejected the offer.

The FSU says that the less than enthusiastic take-up was "despite the 
bullying tactics" of the bank.

Even many of the managers who did accept the individual contracts have 
since signed a letter drafted by the FSU, asking to be included in any 
future collective bargaining agreements.

Obviously peeved, the bank is now demanding in current negotiations with 
the union that middle management specifically lose the right to 
collectively bargain ever again.

New redundancy proposals have also been put forward by the bank that would 
force senior employees into junior positions as an alternative to 
redundancy, with a drop in their pay, and a once-off payment as 
compensation.

Alternatively, the bank could "downsize" a senior employee, and temporarily 
appoint a junior employee to take on the extra workload and 
responsibilities indefinitely, never having to give them a payrise.

The FSU has rejected the demands, with Secretary Tony Beck saying the union 
would fight on the key issues of fair pay and achievable workloads for 
employees.

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