NAB races against WorkChoices

WHILE some organisations are waiting for the new industrial relations laws to take effect on March 1, the Finance Sector Union and National Australia Bank are in the midst of consultations

NAB races against WorkChoices

WHILE SOME organisations are waiting for the new industrial relations laws to take effect on March 1, the Finance Sector Union (FSU) and National Australia Bank are in the midst of consultations with members and staff members in a plight to ensure employee conditions are secured prior to the implementation of the WorkChoices legislation.

Workplace Relations Chief, Ilona Charles said the new enterprise bargaining agreement would not only protect certain conditions but also increase flexibility and choice for employees while providing certainty in terms of their remuneration for the next three years.

The main strategic reasons behind NAB taking part in such enterprise agreements are to achieve integration of the bank’s wealth management and banking businesses as well as achieving effective change management.

“We are really trying to go through a big cultural change program, therefore we thought it was really important to change the cultures of many things that are actually embodied in our award and in our existing enterprise agreements which we thought were barriers to cultural change.

”We also thought by providing some stability and certainty to our staff over the change program, that would actually be really helpful for us in achieving our change agenda,”said NAB’s Executive General Manager of People and Culture, Elizabeth Hunter. “We were looking to drive our cultural transformation agenda around flexibility and simplicity … it makes sense to go down this path and that’s why we made this decision. It was the right thing for us to do for our company, given where we are at, given our context and given our strategies,” she said.

With the ballot for votes on the new EBA set to open early next week, positive feedback regarding the agreement has left the FSU and NAB hopeful that people are keen to secure their conditions and have faith that their needs have been delivered by the union.

According to Charles, there is a lot on offer for employees that they have never had before. “In terms of benefits, there’s a number of new family friendly and work/life balance initiatives that have been put into the agreement, some of which our wealth management colleagues have been enjoying for some time that we’ve now been able to offer to all employees,” she said. Innovative approaches to remuneration increases, superannuation increases and share offers are also provided – not only as a benefit for employees, but also to encourage investment in the organisation.

Despite the NAB’s own initiative to construct a new enterprise agreement, Hunter believes this is not a particularly radical movement: “What we are doing is completely in line with the spirit of the new legislation… the spirit of that legislation is around having relationships between employers and employees in the one workplace as opposed to a set of industrial awards which cover a whole industry,” she said.

Charles claims that by working constructively with the FSU, they have been able to work on issues as they arise, rather than dealing with them in a dispute manner.

However, according to FSU National Secretary Paul Schroder, the WorkChoices legislation takes away many of the things that employees value, ultimately threatening the security of their awards.

“What WorkChoices does is flush away all of those things in awards that are very critical to our members, such as rostered days off, penalty rates, hours, rostering arrangements, breaks, allowances – a whole range things that have been built up over time – and replaces them with a set of just five basic minimums,” he said.

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