Westpac staff demand fair pay, and an end to targets in their pay system
1500 Westpac staff who are members of the Finance Sector Union Finsec will walk off the job tomorrow in the first ever bank strike in New Zealand held on the last banking day before Christmas. The strike is an indication of how strongly Westpac staff feel about debt targets being linked to their pay and their low salaries. A number of rallies and other actions will occur around the country.
“Westpac staff will take to the streets to highlight what is a moral and ethical dispute. This is about staff wanting a fair deal, and staff wanting to give customers a fair deal” said Finsec Campaign Director Karen Skinner. “It is shameful that staff have been given no choice but to take to the streets to be treated fairly and be allowed to act ethically.”
Westpac has some of the lowest pay rates in the banking industry. Many of the workers taking action tomorrow do not even earn the average wage. Most of those participating have starting salaries of between $26,227 and $36,171. These figures are lower than the same jobs in other banks.
Increased sales targets linked to pay have been used to keep these Westpac salaries unsustainably low and the targets are changed every year to align with the Bank’s desire for increased profit. Westpac made $611 million in the last year.
Westpac’s offer, 3.5% annualised, is the lowest of any major bank this year and is very low given that many other settlements have been around the 5% mark.
“We cannot believe that it has come to this” said Maxine Mullen, Westpac staff member and Finsec negotiator. “How can this Bank make a $611 million profit, earn an award for corporate social responsibility, and not see this as being totally unfair, unethical and just plain wrong.”
Auckland 10.30am March from St James theatre down Queen street. 11am rally outside Price Waterhouse Coppers Tower (Westpac head office), with carol singing and the giving of Christmas gifts to Westpac management.
Wellington 12.15 Rally outside 318 Lambton Quay branch. CEO Ann Sherry the Christmas grinch will make an appearance to accept a cheque for $611 million from NZ customers and staff.
Christchurch 11.30am picket outside Cnr Cashel/High St Westpac’s main back office centre and call centre. Bags of money will highlight Westpac’s profit figure, which comes at the cost of staff and customers.