Since August 2014 workers at ANZ Bank have been involved in the longest-running dispute in New Zealand’s finance sector’s history. What began as an attempt by FIRST Union to make modest improvements to pay and conditions has developed into a fight to retain conditions in the face of massive claw backs by the employer.
ANZ is an immensely wealthy corporation. Profit in 2014 was $1.7 billion, $343 million higher than the year before. This has in part been achieved by reductions in staff through off-shoring and also by closing branches.
ANZ is insisting that workers adhere to a new roster system that would mean they have no control over the days and hours they work. In the growing contact centre that serves Australian customers the bank wishes to seriously cut back the hours in which it currently pays a 15% loading.
After several national one day strikes and numerous local strikes the outcome of the dispute hangs in the balance. The union campaign would be strengthened immensely if FIRST Union was able to co-ordinate action with the Finance Sector Union in Australia. Not only are Australian ANZ staff also facing cuts, but low pay in New Zealand directly undermines workers across the Tasman.
By Joe Kelly