23 September 2021

The Finance Sector Union (FSU)  which represents workers in the banking, insurance, and superannuation sectors, has launched its Human Rights Network to hold financial institutions to account on a range of important issues around the obligations corporations have to observe the rights of workers and communities they service.

Launching the HRN last night FSU National Secretary Julia Angrisano said: We will stand together for a finance sector that respects and promotes human rights in every interaction, at every opportunity.”

The FSU recognises the importance of working to secure and defend our rights: the right to equal pay, the right to reasonable wages, and the right to join a union and bargain collectively.

These rights are recognised and enshrined by the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights.

Financial institutions also have human-rights obligations, and we see these obligations being tested regularly with Myanmar being the latest example. Hundreds of bank workers have gone into hiding, four have been murdered by the Regime, and 600,000 workers have lost their jobs as a result of the coup.

Launching the HRN, Sharan Burrow General Secretary of the International Trade Union Federation said human rights and labour rights are fundamental.

“It may shock you to know that 87 per cent of countries violated the right to strike, 79 per cent violated the right to bargain collectively,” Ms Burrow said.

“This is going to be the struggle of the future, repairing the labour market, an end to corporate impunity and mandated due diligence.”

Human Rights academics Dr Kym Sheehan and  Professor David Kinley have recently developed a human rights benchmark for businesses in the financial services sector to allow the FSU to evaluate how corporations impact on human rights here in Australia or wherever they operate.

Dr Sheehan said financial services touch people’s lives and at times, create a human rights risk.

“An accountability framework but without governance won’t work. Outcomes are the litmus test. If you don’t recognise the risk, you’ll have policies that aren’t working,” she said.

Professor Kinley said financial services companies needed to understand that human rights and ESG were core issue for their businesses.

“The finance sector often focuses on environment, cutting fossil fuel investment, and governance, post Royal Commission rules and regulations, but ‘Social’ is important,” he said.

Ms Angrisano said the FSU Human Rights Network will hold the finance sector to account for their human rights obligations and stands with all people to protect their human rights.

“We will stand together for a finance sector that respects and promotes human rights in every interaction, at every opportunity,” she said.

Media contact John Hill 0412 197 079

Authorised by Julia Angrisano, National Secretary