10 Oct 2014

ANZ Bank staff go on strike

4:53 pm on 10 October 2014

About 500 ANZ Bank staff around the country have been striking this morning over a breakdown in talks around employment conditions.

About 80 staff picketed the bank's Wellington head office.

ANZ staff picket in Wellington during strike action earlier this month Photo: RNZ / Diego Opatowski

In Wellington, about 80 people picketed the bank's head office with a giant inflatable rat, many wearing masks of ANZ chief executive David Hisco.

Protesters chanted and waved signs encouraging the bank to "Come live in our world" - a play on the bank's slogan, "We live in your world".

Striker and ANZ staff member Helen Packwood said they enjoy working for the bank, but ANZ's proposal for more flexible staff contracts and annual pay increases of just 2.75 to 3 percent were not good enough.

"We love working for ANZ but we just want fair rights and fair pay," she said.

Ms Packwood said the offered annual pay increase of up to 3 percent pales next to Mr Hisco's salary and annual raise.

With a 2013 salary of $4.1 million, up 14 percent from 2012, Mr Hisco is the highest paid executive in New Zealand.

"How can you get a 14 percent pay rise and give us a 3 percent pay rise? And you're already on $4.1 million per year. I mean, come on - share the love, David, share the love," Ms Packwood implored.

FIRST Union retail and finance secretary Maxine Gay said ANZ was pushing a proposal which would make bank worker's lives unstable.

"ANZ is actively promoting a proposal which would leave bank workers with jobs that they cannot plan their lives around, by chopping and changing their days and start times month by month," she said.

The union wants the bank to come back to the table to negotiate, First Union finance sector national organiser Bella Pardoe said.

"We want the bank to meet what Westpac offered their workers, which was 3.4 percent [annual pay increase], and also to look and seriously consider our counter proposal around flexibility.

"We've put up a number of proposals and they're not even prepared to look at those."

But ANZ spokesman Stefan Herrick said the bank did not intend to approach the union following today's actions, although they remain available for discussion.

"We're disappointed the union took action when a very good offer was on the table for our staff," he said.

ANZ's pay was extremely competitive compared to similar jobs in the market, flexible contracts will not affect workers and no staff will be forced in to the contracts, he said.

"The union is simply trying to create an issue out of this because they want a higher pay increase than the very competitive 3 percent and 2.75 percent that we have offered staff."

ANZ confirmed that all branches remained open and all services were available today.