The ANZ Bank’s decision to shut down 15 more branches in regional Australia means it wins first prize for turning its back on the community.
Since January 2020, the ANZ has announced the closure of 146 branches.
The latest to close: NSW – Forster, Cooma, Ulladulla, Salamander Bay, Casino, Cowra, Cootamundra, Leeton, Kempsey. VIC – Bacchus Marsh, Lakes Entrance. WA – Wongan Hills, Bassendean, Baldivis, Beverley. Each of these branches will be shut down by October, 2021.
Finance Sector Union (FSU) National secretary Julia Angrisano said banking was an essential service and branches should be maintained as important part of our regional economy.
“But that’s not the view of the ANZ. The ANZ takes the cake as the worst performer when it comes to deserting communities around Australia,” Ms Angrisano said.
“This is a bank which lives up to the Banking Royal Commission’s description of banking as being driven by greed and short-term gain.”
“When there is a financial downturn the Federal Government backs the banks in order to protect the economy. So in our view, banks have an obligation to continue to provide a service to the community.”
“But the ANZ doesn’t understand that basic principle. The ANZ is obsessed with putting profits before people.”
“How long can Scott Morrison and Josh Frydenberg ignore the damage being done to regional Australia by the Big Four banks which simply don’t care about the people and businesses they are deserting?”
Ms Angrisano said these latest closures would affect thousands of customers, now forced to change banks or travel long distances to branches in other towns. The latest closures will impact the careers of 54 ANZ staff with many expected to be forced onto the unemployment queue.
“If you live and work in a regional town, your opportunities for redeployment are virtually nil.”
Those workers will also no longer be eligible for the ANZ’s Covid Enhanced Redundancy provisions as that program, which guaranteed affected staff a minimum nine months redundancy pay, was withdrawn on April 1, 2021.
“That was a program which recognised that bank workers could face difficulty securing a new job because of Covid. In our view nothing has changed and with the vaccination program still to be rolled out the pandemic continues to affect the numbers of jobs on offer.”
Ms Angrisano said the ANZ’s claims that it’s the public’s preference to do financial transactions online but pushing customers online is part of the bank’s business model.
“Bank staff have been pressured by the use of ‘targets’ to move customers online and in each of the banks, limits have been imposed on the number of over-the-counter transactions.”
“Shutting branches in regional areas does not reflect the true needs of bank customers.”
“They need to be able to transact the full range of banking and financial services in branches close to where they live.”
Ms Angrisano said Covid had fast tracked the ANZ’s plans to shut down parts of its branch network but the ANZ and other banks were moving too quickly and pushing too hard in a race to profit from downsizing the number of branches they operate.
“We don’t believe the community is ready for the changes to banking that are being pushed by the likes of the ANZ,” she said.
“And we know the community is not ready for managing their finances online because one third of bank customers either don’t have a computer, do not have sufficient skills or are not interested in taking up online banking.”