Issue No.1 of 2011
Thursday 6 January


Hello all and welcome to 2011
 

Message from the National Secretary,
Leon Carter


I hope your seasons celebrations went well and you had a chance to relax with family and friends over the past couple of weeks. I also hope you will continue to support your union throughout the year as we face the challenges and opportunities of our dynamic sector. It is vital that the voice of employees continue to be heard in the debates currently surrounding our industry. To do this we must take the opportunity to grow our union and the voice it provides finance sector workers. So show your support this year by talking about the importance of union membership to your colleagues and getting them to sign up. In 2011 we have the opportunity to make our industry a better place to work. I look forward to working with you throughout the year.

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Members battle with Queensland Floods 

Our first message for the 2011 would be amiss if we didn't recognise our members and their families who have been impacted by the worse floods in Queensland for over 50 years, perhaps even longer.

FSU members, along with members of their communities in Rockhampton, Emerald, Bundaberg and towns in between, have battled to save belongings and help their neighbours.

Now the waters are moving south with St.George bracing for the rising rivers. And we do not forget members in Northwest WA, around Carnarvon that were hit with floods just before Christmas.

FSU has contacted employers who have branches in the affected areas to ensure that members unable to attend work are still being paid and that clean up operations of workplaces will be undertaken by qualified tradespeople.

Of course, the work for members will be ongoing and not just for those caught in the flood's pathway. Many hundreds, if not thousands, of FSU members will be working to assist their customers with assessing the damage as the waters recede and to rebuild their homes and lives.

Members in the insurance industry will be working hard to process claims and get much needed rebuilding and reequipping of businesses and houses started. Members in local banks and credit unions will be assisting customers to access funds to buy essentials.

Our banks have announced support packages for affected communities and to assist them to access emergency funds or defer repayments. This response is welcomed and FSU members will be working with customers directly affected to make sure the assistance is dispersed.

Still other FSU members will continue to work in volunteer roles with State Emergency Services and other community organisations to provide assistance.

FSU, on behalf of members throughout Australia, expresses its support for members in Queensland, Northern NSW and other parts of Australia coping with the floods and all those who will be working hard to help their customers and communities through this difficult time.

Members requiring further assistance or information on other services they can access through their union should contact the Member Rights Centre on 1300 366 378.

Members who are able or wish to make a donation to assist people involved in the Queensland floods can do so by visiting www.qld.gov.au/floods/donate.html

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New Consumer Credit Laws in effect for all ADIs 

Australia's new Consumer Credit Laws have come into effect this week across all major banks and credit unions, signalling the commencement of a new era of responsible lending. But will the impact on employees be recognised?

The new National Consumer Credit Protection Package (NCCP) requires lenders to ensure that credit and credit products are not unsuitable for customers, undertaking a more thorough review of the customer's expenses and capacity to repay and requiring greater disclosure.

By and large the industry has welcomed the new laws recognising the value to consumers and the industry's reputation of enshrining responsible lending in law and acknowledging the likely benefits arising from some of the fringe and less credible lenders exiting the market as a result.

There are varying reports from some of the bigger banks about what the cost and impact of implementing the changes will be. These range from an assertion by the Commonwealth Bank that the implementation costs have come with a price tag of $40 million, while others, such as ANZ, have suggested a much lower figure.

But what does it mean for members?

Again there are varying reports on what the NCCP impact has been or will be on employees. Stories to date have ranged from there having been no new training or procedures required, to major overhauls in credit policy requiring greater interview and assessment time.

Not surprisingly, there have also been reports to FSU about sales targets actually being increased in some banks, something that would seem to run counter to spirit of the law that seeks to put customer’s interests first, not the banks bottom line.

 Tell us your story - what, if anything, has changed in your job with the introduction of the new Consumer Credit Laws? Have your targets been adjusted? Have you been provided with training to comply with the new laws? Have your procedures changed? Has your workplace received more staff to cope with the changes?

FSU is supportive of the new laws and has long argued the need for responsible lending to be adopted across the industry. But the changes must take into consideration the need to change management practices entrenched in banks and finance companies that conflict with the broader intent of the new laws.

This includes providing employees with access to genuine training, qualification and accreditation, providing more resources where they are needed and removing conflicted remuneration models, based on sales targets, so heavily ingrained into the provision of credit in our banks and finance companies.

These are the next challenges that FSU will be discussing over coming weeks with government, regulators, employers and, most importantly, you, the members of the union and the people putting the new laws into practice.

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Paid Parental Leave 

From 1 January 2011 workers in the finance sector are eligible for 18 weeks paid (at the minimum wage rate) parental leave - in addition to any leave negotiated between their employer and FSU - if they are the primary carer of a baby born or adopted after this date. 

If you are seeking PPL you need to meet a 'work test'.  You must have:

  • been engaged in continuous work for at least 10 of the previous 13 months prior to the birth or adoption, AND
  • worked at least 330 hours in the 10 month period (roughly 9 hours per week).

So, even if you've recently resigned from your employer, you may still be eligible for the Government's scheme - it will just be paid by the Family Assistance Office rather than your previous employer. 

You are responsible for making any claim for PPL - see attached information or go to www.familyassist.gov.au

If you have any questions or concerns, call the Member Rights Centre on 1300 366 378.

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Authorised by FSU National Secretary Leon Carter