National Bank picketed in Newmarket Solidarity from Unite Delegate and Socialist Aotearoa editor, Joe C FINSEC delegate and Socialist Aotearoa activist Danielle with comrade! On the Picket Line, Queen Street Bankers shut down by workers action
People before Profit!
Today ANZ and National Bank staff picketed at 3 major sites across Auckland. This is after stop work meetings where the majority of members voted to reject the 4% pay rise offer and hold a strike. After weeks of negotiations between Finsec and ANZ National the workers had decided enough is enough and nothing less than a 5% pay rise is a fair deal.
Customer services representative and union delegate Danielle was present at the stop work meeting and two of today's pickets.
*Why was a strike necessary today?
Negotiations between Finsec and the bank have broken down. ANZ National are unwilling to come to the table and offer a fair deal in good faith. We are fed up with the way ANZ National are treating workers. The payrise we've been offered is not enough to cover the rising cost of living. We don't feel that the company respects its staff.
*That's a strong statement. Why do you feel that ANZ National don't respect their workers?
Our workloads are increasing and we have received no reward for this. Also, jobs are being sent offshore and so job security is an issue among many staff. The sales targets are high and the low pay offer is a sign of the lack of respect for the workers.
*You were at both the Newmarket and Queen St pickets. What was the general feeling among your co-workers?
I think we had about 80 members at the Newmarket picket. Everyone was enthusiastic about striking and making a public statement. Union members are very angry at the way they've been treated and many of us feel that this action is the only way to create change. We decided to take the picket to Queen Street and there was a real sense of unity among us. We're all willing to take further action if necessary.
*What was the public's reaction to the pickets?
Generally people were supportive. Times are hard for a lot of people - so I think they would relate to the issues facing the working class. We handed out lots of leaflets and also collected many signatures supporting our position. The support we recevied from the public today was encouraging, it really boosted our morale.
*What next after today for ANZ National Workers?
Members votes on the offer haven't been officially collated across the whole country as yet. We should have results on this next week. If the banks 4% offer is rejected we will most likely have to look at further industrial action.
*What can people do to support the cause?
Union membership is vital in helping all workers win a fair deal. Obviously people should join a union if they're not in one. We have a postcard campaign on - so please sign and send (it's freepost!) if you receive one. Families and friends support is important to workers too as if we do take further industrial action the loss of pay makes things difficult.
*So far this year we have seen many lay offs and other strikes. What's your thoughts about this trend?
We're clearly seeing the result of a weak economy in NZ. Everyone is feeling the pressure of high living costs, increasing interest rates and very little pay. Money doesn't disappear in an economic downturn, it's just that big businesses are hoarding it all. The government doesn't seem to be doing anything in real terms to help the working class so it's obvious we need a real alternative to the Labour Party.