The Guardian August 16, 2000

Commonwealth Bank: It's the greediest!

by Peter Mac

Not content with having gained huge profits in recent years the privatised 
Commonwealth Bank last week rejected a compromise pay deal offered by the 
Finance Service Sector (FSU). Under the deal, employees of the Commonwealth 
Bank would have gained a pay increase of 8.5 per cent over two years, with 
a five percent rise this year for the lowest paid staff and four per cent 
for others, backdated to May. This was to have been followed by 4.5 per 
cent for all staff next year.

Although the deal was significantly higher than the Bank's offer of 6.5 per 
cent, it was less than the 9.1 per cent that St George Bank offered 
recently to its workers.

Nevertheless, last Friday the bank rejected the union's offer.

Moreover, although the CBA staff had overwhelmingly rejected the bank's 
offer three weeks ago, the bank has now circulated a letter to staff 
offering to bypass the union and reach an agreement with individual 

The letter has been described by an FSU representative as an arrogant 
attempt to split bank workers from their union.

It reads in part: "The FSU has responded to the Bank's offer with a raft of 
claims that offers no hope of reaching an agreement within a reasonable 

"In these circumstances, the Bank has little option but to consider how its 
proposals may be delivered directly to employees without the support or 
agreement of the FSU."

The letter concludes "Please talk to your Manager if you would be 
interested in accepting the Bank's final offer without the agreement or 
support of the FSU. If you are interested we can make it happen."

The Commonwealth Bank pay case has now dragged on for more than eight 
months, and has involved continuous industrial action and negotiations, 
including a 24-hour strike. Union officials and members are now bracing 
themselves for more of the same.

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