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Westpac Invites Finsec To Mediation

For Immediate Release

Thursday 24 June 2004

Westpac Invites Finsec To Mediation Over Call Centre Staff

Westpac has today invited Finsec to mediation following its advice that our latest offer to Phone Assist Call Centre staff has been rejected by 59 votes to 22. Finsec has 143 Phone Assist members eligible to vote on the offer. Westpac has 247 Phone Assist staff in total.

Westpac General Manager Consumer Banking, Ken Hodgson, said that he believed Westpac’s offer – detailed below – was fair and reasonable, and reflected the careful consideration given to Finsec’s claims over the past weeks.

“The offer goes a long way to addressing the issues raised by Finsec, however the Union has nevertheless indicated potential for more industrial action,” Ken Hodgson said. “We would be disappointed if Finsec took that course, as the Bargaining Agreement that the Union and Westpac signed ahead of this negotiation process contains an agreement that Mediation would be the first step taken should difficulties arise.”

“Dates are available for mediation every week in the near future, so there would be no delay to the resumption of good-faith bargaining caused by following the agreed process,” Ken Hodgson said. “We hope that Finsec will honour its Bargaining Agreement undertaking, particularly when any industrial action will be based on our offer being rejected by 59 of a possible 143 of our people.”

“Of course industrial action will also cause inconvenience to customers and additional workload pressure for other staff,” Ken Hodgson said.

Westpac’s offer is as follows:

-To change people from rotating shifts to fixed or semi-fixed shifts over the next year – 20% within the first three months (up from the current 7.5%) and more changes offered at the end of each quarter to those staff who wish to make the change. The fixed or semi-fixed shifts cannot be restricted to daytime or weekday shifts

-Union rights to enable union delegates time off the phones to conduct union business

-Phone Assist staff to receive as a pay rise at least the same market movement negotiated for the Main Collective negotiations (this matches the commitment made last year)

-Phone Assist staff can reduce their weekly hours of work from 40 to 37.5 if they wish, but will be paid for 37.5 and not 40 hours – Westpac also offered the option of seeking this reduction in hours from January 2005 when the pay increase negotiated under the Phone Assist collective is likely to smooth any transition

-Work with Finsec to develop guidelines for team leaders and managers on managing sick leave

“We believe this offer is fair and reasonable and consistent with Westpac’s status as one of New Zealand’s best large employers,” Ken Hodgson said.

Westpac’s Work-Life balance policies

Westpac staff have access to market-leading paid parental leave, including those adopting and same-sex couples. This tops up Government paid parental leave to enable employees to receive up to 100% of salary for 12 weeks – made up of a top up to 66% of their fortnightly salary for the first 12 weeks of parental leave and the bonus of the remaining 34% as an incentive payment which they receive three months after returning to work Westpac staff have access to unpaid Career Break and Time-Out provisions, enabling them to take a break from work and return to work in the same or a similar position depending on period of leave Westpac staff have been recognised for loyalty with one-off cash payments Westpac staff are able to pursue external study, and take study leave, at Westpac’s expense Westpac staff have access to subsidised school-holiday child care All these work-life balance policies are the result of extensive consultation with our people

ENDS

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