Westpac forcing 250 Wellington workers to relocate to Auckland or take redundancy

Westpac New Zealand is forcing more than 200 Wellington employees to move to Auckland in 2021 or take redundancy in an effort to "unify" three departments. 

The decision affects around 250 workers, mainly in information technology. It will consolidate Westpac's technology, product and marketing hub in one location. 

"Our team based in Wellington has produced some exceptional results with their colleagues in Auckland," Karen Silk, general manager of Westpac NZ's Experience Hub, said. 

"However, we think collaboration and teamwork can be taken to the next level if we take the opportunity to bring all of our people under one roof."

The bank said the decision was motivated by a new opportunity to acquire more floor space at the bank's headquarters in Auckland's Britomart precinct.

The union that represents finance workers, FIRST Union, told Newshub it had been informed that Westpac was planning to restructure its Experience Hub team in 2021, and that affected workers were being informed of their options on Thursday. 

"No FIRST Union members are affected by the restructure, which mainly covers corporate and IT roles," Tali Williams, FIRST Union secretary for retail, finance and commerce, told Newshub. 

Westpac said all affected employees have been invited to retain their current position in Auckland, and be reimbursed for their relocation costs, but also have the option of taking redundancy. 

There will be no overall reduction in roles.

Silk said, "We look forward to maintaining a corporate presence at two offices in Wellington, with employees from a variety of functions including consumer and business banking." 

She said the 12 months' notice will allow employees time to consider their options.

Westpac became the first bank in New Zealand to become accredited as a Living Wage employer in early 2019, after committing to pay all contractors and suppliers the wage, which currently sits at $21.15. 

The current minimum wage set by the Government is $17.70 an hour, which is set to increase again this year to $18.90 an hour. 

Westpac, an Australian-owned bank, also paid out $7 million to approximately 93,000 customers last year after it was found that account fees were incorrectly charged.