Banks pay employees lip service: Finance union

Bank employees are fearful of losing their jobs despite banks claiming to be enacting the Banking Royal Commission’s final report recommendations, warns the Finance Sector Union of Australia.

Finance Sector Union of Australia WA executive secretary Dianne Marshall said across WA the pressure on bank employees remained as banks turned to unpaid overtime to deal with increasing workloads.

Ms Marshall said the main issues for employees were the heavy workloads and high expectations generated by targets as banks cut jobs with no discussion of who would cover the extra work. 

 “They think ‘if I don’t meet these [targets], I will lose my job’,” she said.

“That’s where the real stress comes, if they think they can lose their job.”

Finance Sector Union of Australia sign in Perth’s CBD. Photo: Nicole Lyttle.

Macquarie University Department of Applied Finance Professor Elizabeth Sheedy said employees felt as though they were under a lot more scrutiny right now.

“When talking to my students and interacting with professionals at conferences … I get the impression that there is currently a lot of fear,” she said. 

The Final Report of the Royal Commission into Misconduct in the Banking, Superannuation and Financial Services Industry was published in February and included recommendations surrounding bank culture.

Citibank’s towering precence within Perth’s CBD. Photo: Nicole Lyttle.

ANZ retail distribution network general manager Paul Presland said ANZ had made progress towards suggestions made by the Royal Commission.

“As an example, from 1 April ANZ has removed individual financial targets and introduced team financial targets for most front-line staff across its Australian branches,” he said.

However, Ms Marshall said despite banks removing visual targets and sale goals, the pressure surrounding employees to maintain high sales remained. 

“It’s just language at the end of the day,” she said.

“The banks still need the sale, it is just the language that has changed.” 

Despite some changes in leadership following the commission, Professor Sheedy was not certain that it would lead to a change in the working environment.

“Until you get more openness about complaints and problems, they are not going to be properly dealt with,” she said.

An ANZ branch open in Perth’s CBD. Photo: Nicole Lyttle.

Mr Presland said ANZ maintained an open dialogue with its staff and were unaware of any disputes about unpaid overtime. 

“Employees and their representatives have a number of avenues available to raise concerns about unpaid overtime,” he said.

Professor Sheedy said that within the last four months the Australian Financial Complaints Authority had received 24,000 complaints from employees.

“Given all that has happened in the Royal Commission there are still some … financial institutions that are being very difficult to deal with in relation to these complaints,” she said.

“So that to me can be a sign that certainly in those institutions there hasn’t really been a change of heart.”