Huge numbers of bank customers and staff trying to reveal the extent of banking malpractice to the Banking Royal Commission are gagged by non-disclosure and confidentiality agreements.
Unlike the institutions at the centre of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, the Banking Royal Commission has not moved to ensure that banks cannot pursue legal action against people who breach confidentiality and non-disclosure agreements to blow the whistle on wrong-doing inside the banking sector.
The ACTU is calling for the Commissioner Kenneth Hayne to ensure that all witnesses have protection from all non-disclosure, confidentiality and non-disparagement provisions relating to previous settlements by the banks, or included in employment contracts or employer policy.
Quotes attributable to Scott Connolly, ACTU Assistant Secretary:
“The banks are using non-disclosure and confidentiality agreements to shield themselves from the most damning details of their malpractice.
“These agreements affect people who work for the big banks, and people who have been paid out by the banks for being victims of malpractice. The Royal Commission, and the public, has a right to hear what they have to say.
“The people coming forward to us are talking about predatory lending, misleading and unconscionable financial advice, possibly illegal fees and fraud by the banks, which in many cases has driven people to bankruptcy and to lose homes and businesses.
“The Turnbull Government has already truncated this Commission. We cannot allow large numbers of witnesses to be silenced by the banks.
“None of the infrastructure that was put in place to collect evidence for previous commissions has been mobilised for the Banking Royal Commission. The Turnbull Government is trying to protect its mates and former colleagues in the banking sector.
Quotes attributable to Julia Angrisano, Finance Sector Union National Secretary:
“Finance sector workers who want to speak out about the unethical practices and toxic behaviour are faced with an impossible choice – remain silent in accordance with their employment contracts, or speak out at the cost of their livelihood and ability to provide for their families.
“Finance sector workers are victims of the worst cultural issues in the sector. By gagging the very workers who can expose these issues, we ask what the banks are trying to hide.
“For the Royal Commission to start to rebuild trust and confidence in the finance sector, workers must be able to speak openly and honestly, and without fear of losing their livelihoods.