Peter Rolfe and Stephen McMahon Herald Sun October 23, 2012
COMMONWEALTH Bank staff have been taken on an all-expenses-paid tropical holiday to reward them for soaring profits.
Up to 300 Commonwealth Bank staff yesterday returned from a trip to Fiji as new research shows homeowners have been charged an extra $18 billion over the past five years by the big banks not mirroring the Reserve Bank's movements.
The Commonwealth last week sent staff on a four-day retreat to Denarau Island on a "reward and success" scheme expected to cost about $500,000.
It came as financial comparison website RateCity estimated the average mortgage holder was charged an extra $11,687 over five years as the major banks failed to pass on the full rate cuts.
Commonwealth Bank executives defended the foreign trip, claiming it was a reward for hard-working branch staff, bank tellers and call centre workers rather than a getaway for high-flying executives.
A source said the bank booked out two luxury hotels for staff on the trip.
"This is a legitimate reward program for staff who have been working hard over the past 12 months," a bank spokesman said.
Finance Sector Union national secretary Leon Carter said no one "begrudges hard-working, low-paid workers being recognised for their effort", but said the Commonwealth would be better off guaranteeing a fair pay rise for all employees.
The Commonwealth, Australia's biggest bank and mortgage lender, last year reported a full-year profit of more than $7 billion, up 11 per cent.
Since October 2007, the RateCity data shows the gap between the RBA's official cash rate and the benchmark standard variable rate charged by the majors had almost doubled.
It had blown out from a 1.82 per cent difference between the cash rate and SVR to 3.37 per cent, according to the research.
None of the big four - ANZ, Commonwealth Bank, National Australia Bank and Westpac - passed on this month's RBA rate cut in full.