Banks and engineering firms push wages up to win over staff

As job vacancies bite, banks and engineering companies offer big wage hikes and better leave deals

Banks and engineering firms push wages up to win over staff

National Australia Bank is the latest company to offer enhanced wages and benefits for its lowest paid staff. An offer of 5% plus an extra week’s leave was put directly to employees earning less than $100,000 per year, in a deal that NAB hopes will be agreed with the Finance Sector Union.

NAB’s head of people and culture, Susan Ferrier, said in the email “we believe this is the right combination for colleagues and the future of the organisation”.

Westpac is also in the throes of wage negotiations and is in talks with the FSU with a 4% increase on the table for its lowest-paid staff plus a once-off $1000 bonus.

The Commonwealth Bank of Australia has rejected talks with the FSU, saying it wanted to make any offer direct to staff. Its enterprise agreement, brokered during the COVID-19 pandemic, expired in July.

Banking isn’t the only sector to be hiking up pay in attempts to retain staff. The AFR reported that “engineering companies are resorting to ad hoc pay increases and share-based retention plans to keep staff as the skills crisis deepens, with bosses also securing big pay rises”.

Arup’s Australasian business has hundreds of vacancies out of a workforce of 3000 and is having to offer salaries significantly higher than inflation.

The “acute” shortages in the sector are due to low numbers of engineers graduating from universities (only half of the students who start studying engineering finish their degrees). It’s compounded by many migrants with engineering qualifications having to get re-licensed before they can work in Australia, which means re-training and examinations, says Romilly Madew, CEO of Engineers Australia.

This comes at a time of rising demand due to a big pipeline of complex infrastructure projects, including clean energy projects.

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