Unions are stepping up their campaign against the major banks, calling on customers to vent their anger at bank management.

The ACTU Executive meeting in Melbourne today voted to expand the campaign and condemn Commonwealth Bank chief David Murray for threatening to ban low-paid and disadvantaged customers.

Finance Sector Union (FSU) National Secretary Tony Beck told the meeting that bank staff would expand their nationwide campaign of strategic work bans in protest against low pay and staffing levels at the National Australia Bank, ANZ and Westpac.

“Bank staff are under unprecedented stress and are being forced to work excessive amounts of overtime, often without pay,” Mr Beck said.

Research for the FSU shows that more than a million hours of overtime are worked in the Australian finance industry each year – the equivalent of 25,000 full-time jobs.

“This industry has just posted a record half-year profit of $4.1 billion, slashed 40,000 jobs and closed almost 2,000 branches, and now they want to cut the pay of their remaining staff,” ACTU President Sharan Burrow said today.

The union’s proposed Social Charter to protect low-income bank customers and prevent branch closures would become a Federal election issue, Ms Burrow said.

“The banks must listen to the community. People want banks to recognise their concerns and act responsibly. Banks are not a law unto themselves, and the Government must play a role,” Ms Burrow said.

The ACTU Executive resolution appeals to bank customers to direct their frustration with poor service levels at bank management, not frontline staff who are operating under intolerable pressure.