West-pac-ed and Leaving





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.

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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.

From westpac.co.nz.

Who We Are

“Westpac is committed to having a strong impact on the communities in which we operate.’



  1. Westpac will lose my account if they go ahead with shutting small branches in rural towns.

    I should have gone when they disclosed Nicky Hager’s account details to the police without a warrant, but put off doing so and then forgot about it.

    Not this time. This is not a bank with NZ’s interests at heart!

    • In places like Takaka if they close I would just move to Kiwibank. It isn’t really the point though is it?

      Take the money & run!

  2. Great post! It is disgusting to be closing branches and making rural communities worse off, putting people out of jobs when they make record profits and are actually the governments bankers and get plenty of tax payers money already.

  3. “Westpac is committed to having a strong impact on the communities in which we operate.’
    The usual degraded and dishonest language. An intolerable pack of lies. My elderly parent uses the Kamo branch – and will struggle to get into the city instead. Most likely a job for me doing the transport. Thanks ANZ for externalising your costs onto me and lowering the independence and quality of life of the elderly.

    • “Westpac is committed to having a strong impact on the communities in which we operate.’

      The usual degraded and dishonest language. An intolerable pack of lies.

      But hang on, it’s 100% true, the closures will have a strong impact. A strong negative impact.

  4. Employing people costs money. Machines are a lot cheaper to run than people -no wages, no healthcare, no ACC, no pensions. Just a bit of electricity and some occasional maintenance.

    The Luddites were opposed to the dehumanisation and mechanisation of life in early 1800s, and were ‘annihilated’. 200 years later we are witnessing the culmination of the effects of Luddites losing to the money-lenders and industrialists -consumerism, overpopulation, environmental degradation, and a dehumanised society.

    It will get a lot worse over the coming decade, of course.

    • Machines are a lot cheaper to run than people -no wages, no healthcare, no ACC, no pensions. Just a bit of electricity and some occasional maintenance.

      Yes but using machines isn’t really the problem. We really do want to automate as much as possible as doing so allows us to develop our economy and our society (it’s beneficial for both).

      It’s having it so that people who aren’t working then get the profits from it that causes problems. Having the profit without the return of wages removes money from the community and gives it to the shareholders. The community, of course, disintegrates as poverty becomes rampant.

      What we’re actually seeing here is why the entire banking system needs to be a) a state service and b) why it should be funded entirely by taxes.

      • I do believe the future of work for many is under threat. But we choose what technology we buy into & there is still much that we don’t want automated. I book domestic travel online but still pay extra & use an agent for international.

  5. Truth is, when they can get away with saving costs, and forcing people to use online or the more outdated phone banking, the banks will do all to cut services that they still deliver.

    I have been told repeatedly by various bank staff, hey, we have this machine that you can process your deposit with, or hey, we have a machine that can give you change for your notes.

    Then they have staff ask you, have you thought about setting up an automatic payment for this?

    They are told also, to try and sell you various other bank products, as that is the only area, where bank staff may earn a little commission, to top up their mediocre pay.

    Let’s get real, we will at some time in future have fewer ATMs, once online banking, EFTPOS and so are the standard for ALL or nearly ALL of us, they already have some banks that are only online, i.e. have no branch offices, no counters, no front-line staff dealing with customers face to face.

    The same is happening with postal and other services, the idea is to automate, to have as much done online, perhaps if necessary over the phone.

    Even government departments do this now, WINZ tell you on every letter and form, hey, you can do all this easier and in a more convenient manner via our website and online, why do you not give it a go?

    The call centres still exist, but they are planned to be reduced, as one day, most government departments will expect you to do things via your computer, be this the old desktop, the laptop, notebook or tablet computer, or alternatively via your smart phone.

    That means more staff doing just basic functions behind the scenes, and fewer offices, one day we may not even deal with frontline staff anywhere anymore. That is the future, as it is developing now.

    With all that we are creating an Orwellian society, where human contact no longer exists in the traditional, natural form, it will all be via technical and computerised means, that we communicate, except perhaps with our parters and kids at home.

  6. “Westpac is committed to having a strong impact on the communities in which we operate.’

    They do have a strong impact – they’re strongly tearing our society apart.

  7. I don’t really see the big problem… I mean what’s the point in having them open if dose specific places doesn’t make enough profit. Is ain’t it better to close it down for the greater good of all the other workers.

    It’s not going to be the end of the world just move to a place with better work optionetics or start something new

    • @Stop being so negative

      What? I… ? What?

      Did you spell check?

      If you’re a RIght Wing apologist you’re a crap Right Wing apologist.

      • Got nothing to apologize for.People have right to their own opinions. But maybe extremists like you don’t understand that

    • It’s not going to be the end of the world just move to a place with better work optionetics or start something new

      Wow! Gobsmacking!

      Not, not your ‘novel’ approach to the English language, but your assertion we should all “just move to a place with better work optionetics or start something new”.

      Just for you, ‘Stop being so negative’ – https://66.media.tumblr.com/918b8a9831e0c8a5764f54955d1290fb/tumblr_inline_nhg07aUjVZ1qb7khc.jpg


      • A normal human would not have any problems finding a new job. People should stop complain and get out of there bed’s and start doing something positive in there life’s.

        But you can have fun staying in bed and failing life. At least I’ll be enjoying my life and find new solutions to problems.

        • Yeah right, a precarious job, on call, casual, part-time or even labour hire, no security, low earnings and always forced to compete at the lowest level – achieved also by the economy being fed with increased, willing migrant labour, keeping wages down.

          What a “bright” future for those who have no alternative to work, it is the last worry for most to get out of bed to get a job and to keep a job, it is facing the prospect of becoming a working poor that most worry about.

        • And just what the fuck is a “normal human”? White, born in Epsom, and a fan of rugby? Fuck off. If you want to talk about “normal humans” remember that the majority of humans live below the poverty line, are lucky to have clean drinking water, healthcare, education, or whatever other factors those several billion people lack, but you so fortunately were lucky enough to be born into. You talk about the world as if everyone shares your privileged position, and lack any kind of realistic understanding of the insane hardships that people suffer. Take a trip through a few third world / developing nations to get an idea, then travel around your own backyard (if you’re not too busy yelling at the local kids to get off it) to see what “normal humans” are, and how they live. But if that’s not on your agenda, perhaps you could do us all a favour, and kindly STFU.

    • Is $916 million a year not enough profit? Surely if you have that much cash to serve as an operational buffer, you can afford to keep a few regional branches open in isolated areas, if only for elderly folk and others who prefer to deal with an actual person rather than a beeping console.

      Westpac are not concerned with “the good of all the other workers”. They’re concerned about returns to shareholders and ever increasing profit margins. Two tellers losing their jobs in a place like Putaruru is not going to work as some magical salve to prevent future redundancies, despite what corporate HQ might have you believe. If anything, they’ll probably view the entire wretched exercise as a test case in cost savings. Bank employees shouldn’t have to uproot their entire families purely in order to preserve their places as loyal cogs in Westpac’s rapacious money-go-round.

      • Maybe the problem is that they are isolated! Would you keep something open that is isolated?

        Dose 3 people have to drive a little bit further to bad for them but that’s life

        • Stop distracting, I suggest.

          Maybe forcing people to drive further will cause significant inconveniences for people in rural and less populated areas.

    • SBSN
      What is positive in your remark. Are you condoning getting rid of local branches. Are you arguing against locals having a say.

      Your comment points to a poor understanding of the wider picture.

      These banks have a privileges role protected by Govt. They make money out of thin air and hold us to ransom stripping vast amounts out of out countries wealth . The four Ozzie banks collude and run a virtual monopoly as a cartel.

      Declared profits are miserable compared with the actual take well laundered through legal tax avoidance locally and the transfer of our money over seas each night for “investment” including the ongoing entrenched “expenses and losses” accumulated through this process.

      Independent estimates have been pegged in the $14B range by the four Oz banks more than 8 years ago.

      The NZ Post Office bank was sold off and closed down by ANZ, These two actions combined effectively closed down business in many small communities which have never recovered. Decline in many rural townships can be linked to this devastating neoliberal imposition.

      Jim Anderton championed the building of Kiwi bank which has offered mute competition to the cartel, so Key and his instructors want to get rid of OUR bank as a service to the OZ banks.

      The wider picture is that this very privileged cartel are not serving the communities they are so richly profiting from.

      Having private banks is a basic nonsense imposed on us by stupid laws allowing concessions set up by powerful wealthy transnational interests for their profit and control.

      Sleepy NZ just lets it happen and even gives support through a somewhat comatose mindset looking at details rather than what is happening overall.

      Stare at the tip of your nose and you will not only be cross-eyed but not see what lies beyond.

      Another underlying plan is to get rid of cash . money, notes, coins and capture every one to having only a paper entry for their credit. Your wealth, savings, income, security will be completely in private hands to do as they wish with. Already the Key Govt have allowed the banks to take your money for their own should they deliberately “mismanage” their books and go broke.
      Do you support this too.

      Do something useful and agitate for State banking


  8. Like you, Kate, I also prefer to deal with a teller rather than a ATM.

    (Though I do internet banking – but only from the relative safety of my own home computer terminal.)

    Just as, at the supermarkets, I prefer a live, human checkout operator rather than those ghastly, impersonal automated scan & pay robots.

    If Westpac cannot understand the value of serving it’s thousands of customers, then all it’s millions spent on advertising is wasted.

    I’ve shared your post on Facebook and Twitter.

    • Thanks for sharing Frank. The SCO ( self check outs ) in Kmart are now being moved to the centre of the stores leaving the sales assistants to check bags & receipts. It will end badly.

  9. I was meeting someone at McDonalds recently and decided to get some food while I was there. I stood in a short queue and a member of staff came up and suggested I use the new ordering machines to the side. You place your order via the screen and then pick it up at the counter. Pretty clear where that is heading. Same with supermarkets – all my local ones now have a self scanning system and Countdown do click and collect and deliveries. For the low skilled worker these are dangerous times.

    However, there may be opportunties for small businesses to come in a deliver the services that are being reduced by the big corporations. Maybe even some collective effort in local communities. The Kiwibank/Post Office tie up is an example of how services can be offered jointly. Links with libraries, schools etc may be the way forward in smaller communities.

    My dad had a stroke a while back and he has dementia. I take him to visit the branch when he needs to get things done – what about the vulnerable and elderly who can’t access their money online?

    • I agree. The vulnerable, the elderly, differently abled? Then there are the security risks. So much to consider & all of it at the cost of socialisation leaving people even more isolated.

      This behaviour shows just how little the bank values its people in comparison with its profit.

  10. There is an advert for Trivago below, motels claim that these booking services are skimming money out of NZ; everytime someone makes a booking on their cellphone. We’ve got to keep the money in our country and communities by making bookings with motels directly !.

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