When a company makes a profit of $916 million and can pay the CEO $2million you would think it might be considering things were going well. That company might even look around them at the country that supplied this astronomical amount and the people that toil each day and perhaps even experience a feeling of warmth and benevolence. Even the conservative, capitalist bankers might consider it time of nobllesse oblige. A time to think about how they can thank those that have supported them.
Or it could just quietly start the process of shutting down nineteen branches and putting more than seventy staff out of a job.
What’s the opposite of thank you?
The list of branches at threat are as follows: Kamo, Cherrywood, Broadway,Fendalton Mall, Gardens, Waikanae, Putararu, Wainuiomata, Raglan, Te Aroha, Ranfurly, Whangamata, Carterton, Takaka, Te Anau,Otorohanga and Fairlie.
The excuse the bank is using for these closures is that there has been an uptake of online transactions and that they are installing smart tellers. I’m sure that’s true. I do many more transactions now that I have access to the technology. Instead of withdrawing a bundle of cash and distributing it I pay for a multitude of things online. If I want to shout my son and I dinner I can put the money in his account while texting him instructions on what to go pick up and when. This enabled by me having the advantage of a smart phone, reliable internet, the income to pay for data and of course a son that has helped me navigate these technologies. Not everyone has these advantages.
But even with everything the bank has managed to automate there are still instances when I want and or need a branch. Things for instance like dealing with reinvesting a term deposit, negotiating better rates, paying IRD, obtaining foreign currency or ( and this is the most important) connecting with a human to discuss a concern or an issue about the thing that too many New Zealanders spend too much time fretting over. Money. Sometimes when it comes to money you want to look someone in the eye and discuss it.
If the branches that are under threat aren’t making a profit, I don’t really care. I do consider it a duty of care for the bank that profits from the country as a whole to consider how such closures affect the people that populate these areas and the people that have worked in these branches, often for years.
If the workers and customers can invest years of service and loyalty to Westpac, is it too much to expect some of that loyalty and service reciprocated?
FIRST Union will work with the members to provide feedback and resist the proposed closures. We will work hard. That will not be enough. We need help. We will need the help of the communities and the customers. We will need everyone.
Email the bank. Write a letter. Send a tweet.
Customers have power. The public has a power. In this situation the government who does all its banking with Westpac has power. The same government that keeps talking about beneficiaries of WINZ relocating to the regions, regional development and reinvestment. This is the government that brags about regional growth.
It is simple. Westpac can choose to keep the branches open or it can take the money and run, leaving the helicopter to pick up the pieces of the lives it has discarded in its pursuit of profit.
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