News: Why a major Australian bank is on the brink of a workers' strike

Compensation & Benefits

Why a major Australian bank is on the brink of a workers' strike

NAB workers want the bank to grant a 6% increase in their pay to keep pace with the rising cost of living in Australia. But the bank has reportedly fallen short.
Why a major Australian bank is on the brink of a workers' strike

The National Australia Bank (NAB) could face a massive workers’ strike for allegedly failing to provide enough pay to address the rising cost of living.

The Finance Sector Union (FSU), a trade union consisting of banking professionals including NAB employees, warned that its members are mulling industrial action against the NAB if the bank does not approve the group’s pay rise offer.

NAB workers want the bank to grant a 6% increase in their pay, which they believe keeps pace with rising cost of living in the country. However, the NAB reportedly only offered its employees a 5% increase.

Julia Angrisano, national secretary of the FSU, said workers’ wages were falling behind the cost of living, and that pay packets for bank employees’ wages were even going backwards. She claimed that the NAB’s 5% pay rise offer contrasts that of its CEO, Ross McEwan, whose salary increased by 113% in 2021.

“CEO salaries are out of control and McEwan and his executives are happy to take big jumps in pay and bonuses while telling workers they need to take a cut in real wages,” Angrisano pointed out.

“It is clear that wages are not keeping up with the cost of living, leading to a decline in living standards for many workers.”

Read more: Workers want a raise – will firms take action?

NAB’s pay rise offer

As part of the NAB’s pay rise offer, workers who earn less than $100,000 annually will receive a 5% pay increase in the first year, followed by a 4% increase in the second year. 

Meanwhile, NAB employees who earn more than $100,000 annually will get a 4.5% pay increase in the first year and a 3.5% increase in the second year. The bank’s proposal also includes conducting annual salary reviews of its senior staff. 

However, the FSU blasted the NAB’s offer, calling it a “meagre” pay rise offer for its employees. The group also criticised the bank’s salary review plan, stating that it would leave about 60% of its workforce without any assurance of a pay increase.  

“All our members need at least a 6 per cent pay rise as soon as possible and it is not good enough to subject most NAB workers to pay review meetings with executives,” Angrisano said.

Angrisano insisted that the NAB’s 5% pay rise offer is not enough to provide its workers with financial relief from the current inflation, which the federal government predicts will even reach up to 7.75% by December 2022.

Read more: Cost of Living Crisis: How employers can support workers amid inflation

Possible industrial action

According to the FSU, its members are not happy with the NAB’s efforts to provide them with the right compensation. “NAB’s executives think their ‘business as usual’ model is good enough but our members are very disappointed that the bank refuses to acknowledge the overwork and understaffing crisis or the need for change,” Angrisano said.

“If the NAB won’t act then our members will take action. They have indicated they are going back into the workplace to press the case for industrial action with their colleagues unless NAB improves its offer.”

If the FSU is to take industrial action, it could come in the form of strikes and stoppage of work meetings. The trade union could also ban thousands of its members from taking part in overtime work.

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Topics: Compensation & Benefits

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