Bob Maine

How would you feel if you were one of the 6000 workers at National Australia Bank (NAB) who will be made redundant in order to cut costs?

You might have a family with small children, struggling to pay for the weekly groceries and bills, on top of the monthly rental or mortgage payments that you can barely afford.

It seems that every other month we have another parliamentary inquiry into the banks. With so many regular appearances you’d think it would start to get boring.

It is amazing how innovative companies can be when it comes to finding more ways to exploit people.

Take for example the adoption of “agile” methods and processes in the workplace. Large corporations, in particular, have been the champions of agile practices as the basis for their corporate transformations.

Can you imagine being a bank CEO today? Wouldn’t you be wishing you were leading the bank 10 years ago before the global financial crisis when you could do whatever you wanted without too much fuss?

Fast forward to 2017. Bank CEOs are under intense scrutiny, but still pushing the banks’ profit-driven agenda in the face of scandal after scandal and community anger.

Imagine a workplace where you could be put on a secret register for forgetting to say a word from a call centre script because it would be a breach of company policy. Then, if you left that company and tried to get a new job, your prospective employer would not hire you simply because you were on that register.

You would never know whether you were on that register; you would have no right of appeal; nor would your name ever be removed from it, regardless of whether you were eventually found not guilty of the allegation.

How bad are things today when even the head of the Reserve Bank of Australia agrees workers are feeling too insecure to demand wage rises.

Speaking at the Australian National University on June 19, Reserve Bank governor Philip Lowe said: “People value security and one way you can get a bit more security is to not demand a wage rise.” Although his argument was about the impact on economic growth, it highlights the level of insecurity felt by workers today.

What is it with ex-state premiers and the finance industry?

First, Anna Bligh took on the leadership of the Australian Bankers Association (ABA), then Mike Baird moved to NAB in a senior executive role, and now Nathan Rees has become the national assistant secretary of the Finance Sector Union.

Recently, I received an email invitation from the University of NSW Young Alumni to attend “networking drinks” with the co-founders of Airtasker.

Chairperson of the Australian Prudential Regulatory Authority (APRA) Wayne Byres recently said that he would not use the “B-word” to describe the housing market, preferring instead to use “heightened risk” rather than housing bubble.

At ANZ’s Annual General Meeting in December last year, chairperson David Gonski asked why any corporation would stay in Australia where they are taxed "so highly" in comparison to other countries?

The response to this is that companies should be made to pay even more tax, and those which pay none should be made to pay. More than one third of large public and private companies paid no tax in 2014-15.

Pages

Subscribe to Bob Maine