Union legal guns aimed at CBA

The Commonwealth Bank of Australia (CBA) has been accused of a long-term “rip-off”, allegedly fleecing thousands of employees of a component of their superannuation since 2009, with the Finance Sector Union of Australia (FSU) seeking legal recourse to rake back millions of dollars of AWOL entitlements.

The FSU alleges that the bank failed to pay 7,000 part-time staff the required 9.5 per cent superannuation entitlements, guaranteed by law and beginning as far back as 2009. According to the FSU, the underpaid CBA employees are at the bottom rung of the banking ladder: largely part-time, poorly-paid and with woman the greater majority of those missing out.

The Union said the bank's lowest-remunerated workers - staff in branches, call centres and administration areas with set hours each week - were the staff the bank had "ripped off". FSU national secretary Julia Angrisano said the Union was prepping a rescue mission.

“We are committed to make sure the bank pays up,” she told AB+F. "We are determined to get justice for CBA staff and we call on employees both past and present to come forward and contact us. It's bad enough that Australia's most profitable bank pays some of the lowest wages in the banking sector — now we are finding that part-time staff aren't getting their full superannuation entitlement.

"The CBA has been ripping off some of its lowest-paid staff since at least 2009,” Angrisano added. "At a time of great economic insecurity for women, CBA's refusal to back pay those impacted will do absolutely nothing to help boost women's financial security in retirement."

Legal advice

The Union has received legal advice on the 9.5 per cent super underpayment and plans to lodge the complaint with the Fair Work Commission unless the superannuation is paid back. Angrisano said the union's next step is to initiate a dispute and that part of that will be to secure all lost back pay "with interest".

The bank declined a request for an interview, however, in a statement on its website, a Commonwealth Bank spokesperson said the FSU had been advised the bank “take(s) their concerns very seriously and that we are committed to complying with obligations".

"CBA is currently investigating their concerns and we have made it clear to them that, if following investigations we identify any issues, we will rectify them. We understand the importance of superannuation to help secure and enhance the financial wellbeing of our employees, and we are committed to ensuring we comply with obligations to employees," the spokesperson concluded.

According to the FSU, while the CBA part-timers in question have been paid employer super to cover a set amount of hours, they missed out entirely on superannuation for hours worked ‘over and above’ the agreement.

Angrisano also noted that nine out of ten CBA employees that missed out were women who worked on call for additional hours during staff shortages and peak periods.

"They are the lowest-paid, they are the frontline staff and we believe they have contributed to the bank's profit-making machine," she said. "They deserve their superannuation to be paid — we're determined to get justice for our members."

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