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Westpac staff reject 'insulting' pay offer and consider industrial action

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The union says its members are offended by Westpac's latest pay offer, especially as it made a $1 billion profit in the last financial year. Photo: RNZ / DOM THOMAS

Union members have overwhelmingly voted to reject a pay offer from Westpac bank and will vote on taking industrial action this week.

FIRST Union national finance organiser Callum Francis said after four months of bargaining, the bank offered pay increases below the current rate of inflation of 6.7 percent, which more than 95 percent of union members voted to reject.

"Bank workers shouldn't have to negotiate for four months for a pay rise that keeps up with the cost of living with one of the largest banks in the Australasian market, who are supposedly an industry leader and last year made over a billion dollars in profit," he said.

"Since 2021, Westpac workers have received pay increases well below the rate of inflation while bank profits remained steady and executives and managers' salaries continued to rise."

Francis said union members had been disappointed and offended by the bank during the bargaining process, especially as Westpac reported $1b in the last financial year.

The bank's half-year result, released in May, saw profits fall by a third on the year earlier, to $426m.

"It's not common for bank workers in New Zealand to strike but they feel that their backs are against the wall after four frustrating months of negotiations and an insulting offer," Francis said.

Union members would plan and vote on industrial action in the coming days, he said.

In a statement, a Westpac spokesperson said the bank remained open to constructive discussion with FIRST Union on a resolution.

"While we acknowledge union members have voted in favour of rejecting Westpac's offer, this still represents a minority of our overall workforce," the spokesperson said.

"We have plans in place across the business to minimise any disruption for customers in the event of industrial action."

The spokesperson said the bank was mindful of the increasing cost of living and the financial impact on employees.

"Our offer of a 7 percent pay increase over 18 months is above the forecast inflation track, and on top of that we're also offering a one-off cash payment," the spokesperson said.

"We believe our remuneration compares favourably to other employers in the financial services sector and includes a range of attractive benefits for all employees, such as a market-leading one week of wellbeing leave on top of annual leave, discounted banking, competitive superannuation and subsidised health insurance."