New agreement a step forwards for Westpac workers

Issue 
Bank workers have broken the link between targets and annual wage rises.

Westpac workers have managed to break the link between targets and annual salary in the recent Enterprise Agreement (EA) negotiations between Westpac and the Finance Sector Union (FSU).

After two months of negotiations, including a petition signed by workers across the Westpac Group, FSU negotiators reached an “in principle” agreement effective from 2016.

The link between targets and annual salary increases has been broken, with staff only required to meet minimum behaviour standards and complete compulsory compliance training — which 98% of staff achieved in the last two years.

The pay increases consist of a 3-year agreement delivering wage growth of 10% for staff with salaries up to $75,000, at least 6% for staff paid between $75,000 and $100,000, and an annual pool of 2% a year for those earning between $100,000 and $150,000. One group of more than 4500 employees in BT and specialist areas will be eligible for EA salary increases for the first time.

Another gain is the guarantee of 10 days’ domestic violence leave as part of a comprehensive support policy for those dealing with domestic and family violence. The Westpac Group will be the first of the “Big 4” banks to offer this support.

Other gains include stronger redundancy protections for all staff and more employees gaining access to RDOs for the first time.

The new EA will be much simpler and more consistent across the Westpac Group in comparison to the current agreement, which involves 18 separate industrial instruments.

Paul Selke and Suzanne Pearce, national presidents of the FSU Council representing workers in Westpac and St George/BankSA/Bank of Melbourne respectively, said in a statement: “Apart from all else, breaking the link between targets and annual salary has the potential to start a long overdue culture shift in our industry. We can reinforce the message that there is no place here for the ruthless and often brutal culture of target driven win-at-all-costs attitudes that have damaged our industry and stressed out so many of our colleagues.”

[Robin Mayo is a member of the Socialist Alliance and the Finance Sector Union.]

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