||Issue No. 355||01 December 2006|
Seven Year Itch
Interview: Flying High
Unions: TUF on Toll
Industrial: Forward to the Past
Economics: Debt and the Economy
Obituary: The Charlatanry of Milton Friedman
Environment: Low Voltage
Legal: The Fair Deal
Review: A Little History
Boss With a Heart
Which Bank Slashes Work Rights?
The Finance Sector Union wrote to the bank requesting permission for staff to take time off to attend the union-organised day of action against new IR laws. Permission was denied, said FSU national secretary Paul Schroder.
In the same week, the bank began offering new and existing staff an AWA individual contract that does away with a raft of long-held award conditions including overtime payments, shift penalties, weekend and public holiday loadings and rostered days off.
It also waters down redundancy and parental leave rights and gives the employer carte blanche over work duties, hours and location.
The Commonwealth Bank becomes the first major employer to introduce AWAs on a large scale.
It is also the largest employer in the finance sector and its move to cut costs by attacking employees' conditions will create pressure for other workers to do the same, said Schroder.
"It is a wake up call to all people working in the finance industry, who until now may have thought they were immune from the laws."
The bank has made clear to the union that the AWA meets the legal requirements of the Federal Government's extreme IR laws, demonstrating how unfair and extreme the new laws are, said Schroder.
The union is calling on the bank to withdraw the AWAs and advising all members not to sign any AWA without first consulting their union, he said.
The ACTU has attacked the Commonwealth Bank's introduction of AWA's and challenged the bank to conduct a staff ballot over whether workers want an individual job contract or a collective agreement.
"The Commonwealth Bank is one of Australia's biggest and most profitable companies. It made nearly $4 billion profit last year and employs 35,000 staff around Australia," said
ACTU Secretary Greg Combet.
"It is unnecessary and unacceptable that hard working employees in bank branches as well as in call centres and back-office operations are facing major cuts to their basic job conditions.
"But that is exactly what big companies are being encouraged to do under the Federal Government's IR laws."
The biggest losers under the AWAs would be workers with family responsibilities, with maternity leave at the employer's discretion, the removal of standard hours of work and employer control over work location, said Combet.
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