Human rights network centres on finance sector

By Tom Ravlic

Monday September 27, 2021

The Finance Sector Union has set up a human rights network to ensure companies are held to account for observing employees' rights.
The Finance Sector Union has set up a human rights network to ensure companies are held to account for observing employees’ rights. (Antonio/Adobe)

A human rights network has been set up by the Finance Sector Union to ensure companies are held to account when it comes to observing the rights of employees and the communities that banks and financial institutions serve.

Julia Angrisano, the national secretary of the union, said at the launch of the network that the union wants to promote human rights at every opportunity within the context of the finance sector and elsewhere.

The establishment of the human rights monitoring network follows work that the union has done in recent years in response to the Hayne Royal Commission that, according to the union, did not properly examine the impact of a ruthless sales culture within certain institutions on their employees.

Sharan Burrow, general secretary of the International Trade Union Federation, spoke at the launch of the network and said while there were rights that should be regarded as inviolable, such as the right to strike, it is clear there are countries that disrespect those ideas.

“It may shock you to know that 87% of countries violated the right to strike, 79% violated the right to bargain collectively,” 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.”

Academics Dr Kym Sheehan and Professor David Kinley have developed a benchmark for adherence to human rights for businesses in the finance sector.

This set of benchmarks will be used by the union to examine the degree to which corporations in the financial services sector adhere to human rights principles.

Sheehan said that having an accountability framework is one thing but making sure it works properly is something else altogether.

“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.

The FSU’s launch of the human rights initiative follows a recent media statement it issued on the protests in Melbourne, with the union condemning the violence and encouraging compliance with the public health advice regarding management of the coronavirus pandemic.


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