The Finance Sector Union has come out in support of a Royal Commission into the banking sector, in the wake of repeated scandals.

Labor Leader Bill Shorten and Shadow Treasurer Chris Bowen have announced that a Labor Government would hold a Royal Commission into misconduct in the banking and financial services industry if it wins the upcoming election.

The Finance Sector Union (FSU) has issued a statement saying it will support a Royal Commission; “provided that the terms of reference for the Royal Commission do not allow it to become a witch hunt against individual employees”.

“Rather, they must focus on the systemic problems caused by decisions taken at the senior levels of the industry,” the union says.

The union has now written to Labor’s Shadow Treasurer, Mr Bowen, the ABA and the major banks outlining the steps that need to be taken to defend the interests of finance sector employees as the debate unfolds.

“There is common ground among employees and the community,” the FSU’s statement reads.

“It is in the interests of our industry, our community and our economy for the finance sector to be held in high regard with public confidence in our professional behaviour and ethics.”

The union has called on the Australian Bankers Association (ABA) and the banks to do the following to make their promise of reform real;

  • Provide an unequivocal commitment to supporting the removal of conflicted pay models from the industry while protecting the living standard of bank employees who have come to rely on product based payments
  • Ensure that the “impartial third party” charged with overseeing the process is truly independent and has the confidence of the community and the workers employed in the industry
  • Guarantee that employees and their union can make direct representations to, and be heard by, the “impartial third party” and have their contributions taken into account before any recommendations are made
  • Extend the proposed whistle blower protections to include effective guarantees of job and career security for whistle blowers
  • Defer the proposal for an employer controlled “black list” of bank employees until agreement can be reached with the union about the details behind its construction, management and use. The union has particular concerns about the criteria for getting on or off the list, a potential denial of natural justice, potential defamation of character, potential breach of privacy, the apparent lack of an appeals process, the accompanying restraint of trade as well as control of and access to the register. 
  • Engaging in genuine consultation with employees and their union during the review of the banking code of practice.

“A piecemeal approach to the problems and the possible solutions is not going to work. Abolishing sales based pay and bonuses without replacing them with something better is not going to work,” the union says.

“On this basis there is a role for a judicial inquiry into the systemic problems in the banking and financial services industries.

“The senior management decisions about pay and bonus systems, targets and performance measures, staffing and training, offshoring and outsourcing all combine to drive an industry culture that has undermined community confidence in what we do for a living.

“These are the things that a Royal Commission should look at and these are the things that must change for the better.”