BNZ plan to replace 50 jobs with part-timers bad for workers and customers: First Union

First Union says it is concerned by an ongoing wave of restructures taking place across BNZ. Picture / Richard Robinson

First Union says 50 jobs are likely to be made redundant and replaced with part-time roles at BNZ as its Aussie parent bank cuts thousands of jobs.

“FIRST is aware of, and disappointed by, the projected 6000 redundancies being rolled out at NAB, BNZ’s parent bank in Australia. We have not seen the same scale of job losses in New Zealand. However, the Union is very concerned by an ongoing wave of restructures currently taking place across BNZ,” said First Union’s Stephen Parry.

“This year BNZ has, or is currently undertaking, 19 restructures across its branch network involving either reduced opening hours or the introduction of so-called ‘Smart ATMs’. Approximately 50 jobs have [been], or are likely to be, made redundant and replaced by part-time roles,” Parry said.

“These restructures are bad for workers and bad for bank customers. Workers face the choice of either losing their jobs entirely, or else accepting reduced hours and a corresponding reduction in pay.”

BNZ’s actions were part of a worrying trend away from face-to-face banking towards online, telephone-based or automated services,” Parry said.

“BNZ and the other banks present these changes as an inevitable response to technology, when in reality it is a deliberate choice to put profit ahead of the interests of customers and workers. BNZ made nearly a billion dollars for NAB last year ― it can afford to maintain its present services.”

A spokeswoman for BNZ said customers were increasingly choosing digital banking channels for everyday banking needs, with nine out of 10 transactions completed digitally.

“Having the right people in the right place at the right time is important to BNZ and our customers and an example of this is recently in Balclutha where we have changed our store hours to more closely reflect when the community interacts with BNZ,” she said.

“We work closely with the Unions and have a good working relationship with them. Where there have been store changes or closures, we engage them proactively and we support our people during these processes. Where possible we look to re-train or redeploy impacted staff.”

The bank did not have specific numbers of employees affected by changes it could discuss at present, the spokeswoman said.

BNZ’s parent National Australia Bank saw a 2.5 per cent rise in its cash earnings to A$6.6 billion ($7b) for the year ended September. The bank made a statutory net profit of A$5.3b for the year to September 30.

BNZ reported net profit of $937 million on the back of strong lending growth and lower provisions for bad and doubtful debts.

NAB chief executive Andrew Thorburn in November last year said the result represented another year of consistent delivery for the bank.

“Cash earnings and revenue are up, asset quality is a highlight again, and we have further strengthened our balance sheet.”

Thorburn said the bank had made strong progress in the past three years and was going to accelerate its strategy by increasing its investment by A$1.5b by September 2020 to further improve the experience for its customers, reshape its workforce and grow the bank.

At the same time it would target more than A$1b in savings as it simplified the business. Australian media reported Thorburn saying that part of the savings would include a cut in 6000 jobs over the next three years, although a further 2000 new jobs would also be created.

NAB employed 33,422 full-time equivalent staff at September 30.

A BNZ spokeswoman at that time said the bank did not have a specific number of planned job cuts and had recently added 40 digital jobs.

In October BNZ restructured staff mainly in its head office with up to 100 people thought to be affected. The bank at that time employed 4500 permanent full-time staff and 760 permanent part-time staff.

Source: The Canberra Times (10th April 2018)

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