THE Fiji Bank & Finance Sector Employees Union has refuted claims by outgoing former ANZ head Norman Wilson that collective bargaining negotiations with them had been ongoing for the past 7-10 years.
This, according to union national secretary Pramod Rae, overshadowed the reality he so openly exclaimed as the bank's rejection of agreements reached in good faith by the union for revisions in recent years.
Mr Wilson earlier said some of the union agreements that existed in the country were outdated and not beneficial in the long-term for staff.
He said while ANZ had great relations with unions and always adhered to UN charters, it avoided getting caught in the realms of controversy.
"He seems to have short memory as he himself signed the last agreement extension with me on November 18, 2010, which contained a provision for ongoing discussions on a few remaining items such as fairness and equity for the lowest paid workers in ANZ but which were overtaken by the Essential National Industries (ENI) decree," he said.
"FBFSEU refutes his claims that ANZ union agreements were outdated. In fact, ANZ Fiji union agreements provided the most modern, progressive and flexible working arrangements in the financial sector in Fiji until they were thrown out by the ENI (Employment) decree 2011 in September last year.
"Those same agreements enabled ANZ Fiji to more than double its annual after tax profits over the past 10 years from around $18million in 2002 to over $44m in 2011 and may well exceed $50m in 2012 based on its global third quarter results and the 30 per cent reduction in corporate tax."
Mr Rae said ANZ workers in the country had not been beneficiaries of that largesse and the bank's growth was not reflected in employees' wages which only grew by a marginal 3-4 per cent per annum over this period.
"Each Fijian ANZ worker's efforts contributes over $100,000 annually to the bank's profits and while ANZ's profitability in terms of return on equity in Fiji remains among the highest compared to its global operations, wages in Fiji remain low," he said.
He said the challenge for the industry in Fiji was not the impact of trade unions but for workers in those industries who struggled against employers who were driven by corporate greed under the protection of labour decrees.