One of the big four banks has announced a second round of branch closures within a fortnight that signals more job losses in the finance sector.
Westpac announced the closure of seven branches in Victoria and Tasmania, and those closures are in addition to the closure of six branches it told the market about on August 30, which will impact communities in Western Australia, South Australia, and Queensland.
The Finance Sector Union said that the bank would have known the latest cluster of branches slated for closure and that it believed Westpac was staggering branch closure announcements so that the number of service centres for customers being shut did not look large.
“Westpac knew last month it was closing down branches in Victoria and Tasmania and this latest announcement is nothing more than media spin to avoid the bad publicity of a big headline number,” said Julia Angrisano, the union’s national secretary.
“Our members in branches are concerned their jobs could be the next to go and that’s a difficult issue for staff who are working through the challenges thrown up by COVID.
“Westpac is slashing millions from its cost base and they know exactly what the future looks like. Instead of dribbling out closure announcements Westpac needs to fess up and stop trying to avoid negative headlines.”
Angristano said Westpac’s bank closures are an indication that the bank is leaving communities that deserve a full service banking in physical branches in the suburbs.
“Where does this end? Using the cover of COVID to decimate the branch network and throw large numbers of staff out of work is obscene,” Angrisano said.
The union also raised concerns about ANZ’s closure of six branches that were announced on August 2 with those six branches spread across six jurisdictions.
Angrisano said at that time it was astounding that one of Australia’s most profitable financial institutions was shutting branches.
“Earlier this year the ANZ announced it was shutting down 15 branches and with the latest closures, the bank will have closed 152 branches since the beginning of 2020,” Angrisano said
“That is an unenviable record for a bank which claims it operates in the best interests of customers and staff.”
This article was first published by The Mandarin.