Westpac looking to close NZ branches

Westpac looking to close NZ branches

Westpac Bank is looking at closing a number of branches around the country, according to a worker's union.

First union national organiser Tali Williams says up to 19 branches from Kamo to Ranfurly could be shut.

Based on that figure, the unions believes it could mean 72 jobs would be lost, with a possibility 20 staff members could be transferred to other branches.

Ms Williams says a lot of the branches that are proposed to close are in rural communities and closing them would mean customers would have to travel long distances to make necessary over-the-counter transactions.

"Some of them, if these branches are closed, will have to travel up to an hour to get to their nearest bank branch," she says.

She says employees are angry and plan to fight the decision if it goes ahead.

"People are naturally in shock they are gutted for their livelihood, they don't know what's around the corner. A lot of these people are in good paying jobs in communities where there aren't many good paying jobs."

And the union has already called for the banking giant to "do the right thing as a corporate citizen and keep the branches open".

"Westpac brought in a $916 million profit last year and a record half year profit of $445 million. It's one of New Zealand's largest and most profitable organisations and there's absolutely no need for it to close these branches and take away these jobs from local communities."

Westpac confirmed that it is reviewing some branches but would not comment further until it had consulted with its staff and customers.

"A proposal regarding a number of branches is currently with staff for their consideration and feedback. Once that feedback has been received and evaluated, a decision will be made," a Westpac spokesperson says.

Westpac NZ - a wholly owned subsidiary of Westpac Australia - says customers are changing the way they bank which means it has to change the way it delivers its services.

"Currently, more than 85 percent of service transactions with us take place outside of a branch. In addition, over the last five years, online transactions increased by 61 percent and in the last year online logins via a mobile device have increased by 33 percent."

But the union says while over-the-counter transactions may have decreased it doesn't mean physical branches are now obsolete.

"Over-the-counter transactions may have decreased but they have not disappeared. There's still a need within these communities to have a local branch… It's not possible or even appropriate to carry out all of your financial transactions online or travel substantial periods to get to the local branch."

Newshub understands a decision will be made by the end of October.