Finance union urges NAB workers to vote up improved agreement

July 19, 2023
The union covering workers at the National Australia Bank has secured an in-principle agreement for wage rises.

Following 16 months of negotiations over pay and conditions, the Finance Sector Union of Australia (FSU) has recommended National Australia Bank (NAB) workers accept a new industry-leading enterprise agreement. Staff will vote on the agreement in early August.

Union members have already endorsed the proposed agreement, which provides for pay rises of 17.5% between 2023 and 2026 (5% in 2023; 5% in 2024, 4% in 2025, and 3.5% in 2026) for workers earning less than $100,000 a year. Those earning more than $100,000 will receive of 8.5–12.5% over four years and those earning above $167,000 will not be guaranteed a rise.

FSU national secretary Julia Angrisano said on July 14 that the improved offer was a win for the thousands of bank workers who rejected the bank’s previous offer last November. “More than 80 per cent of NAB staff have now secured guaranteed fixed salary increases, instead of relying on NAB’s market-based model which eroded our members’ standard of living.”

While the initial pay rise is below inflation, the combined four-year offer is better than most other wage agreements unions have achieved in recent times.

The new NAB agreement also includes: working from home rights; increases to parental leave; measures to address the gender pay gap, including superannuation paid on all periods of paternity leave; Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leave; recognition of mental health and menopause/menstruation; and the formation of an ongoing consultative committee to address job security.

Angrisano said despite some improvements to address the hours-of-work crisis at NAB, more needs to be done. The FSU is continuing to demand NAB, through a Federal Court action, recognises harmful work practices.

NAB is the third largest of Australia’s Big Four banks, with 32,000 staff. It has now agreed to work-from-home rights, making it a one of the first corporations to give private-sector staff legal protection for remote work, according to a Reuters report.

The deal breaks new ground in a global stand-off between corporations and workers, since bosses started calling an end to home-working arrangements during the pandemic.

Some of Australia’s biggest companies, including NAB and the Commonwealth Bank of Australia (CBA), have set minimum office attendance requirements.

But the capital city office vacancies remain far higher than pre-pandemic levels, as staff resist a return to previous office attendance levels.

The FSU said the new agreement would challenge other large banks to match NAB’s new benchmark.

The FSU-NAB deal comes two days after the FSU took CBA, with 49,000 staff, to Fair Work Commission (FWC) to object to a directive to return to the office for 50% of the time from this month.

The union told the FWC that the CBA’s return-to-office directive would force staff to spend more money on commuting and child care, and lose two to three hours a day in travel.

Westpac and the FSU are currently negotiating a new enterprise deal, which includes whether to allow work from home.

Meanwhile, the Community and Public Sector Union (CPSU) secured an agreement with the Australian Public Service Commission (APSC) on July 11 for public servants work-from-home days not to be capped, for a bias towards approving requests and the right to appeal refusals. This reverses a Coalition’ government policy against working from home.

Several unions, including the CPSU, said they oppose former Victorian Liberal premier Jeff Kennett’s proposal that those working from home be paid less because they save on commuting.

[Visit the Financial Sector Union for more information.]

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