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Banks fleeing small towns: union

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 21/09/2016
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Major banks appear to be systematically abandoning regional New Zealand, says the bank workers' union following Westpac's announcement it would close 19 branches.

ANZ was closing its Ngaruawahia branch and consulting on six more: Massey University in Palmerston North, Milton, Hokitika, Waitara, Te Aroha and Otorohanga, the First Union says.

"Our members are nervous because some of the redeployment options on the table are unrealistic," said national organiser Tali Williams.

ANZ workers in places like Hokitika and Milton were expected to relocate to Christchurch.

Smaller towns would also suffer a double hit with both Westpac and ANZ branches closing.

"Our members in the branches are asking 'who's next'," Ms Williams said.

"The major banks appear to be systematically abandoning regional New Zealand."

Westpac on Wednesday said 19 branches were expected to shut in November.

It said customers were rapidly changing the way they did their banking and more than 85 per cent of service transactions now took place outside a branch.

The branches that will close are Kamo, Raglan, Otorohanga, Putaruru, Te Aroha, Cherrywood, Whangamata, Broadway Ave, Wainuiomata, Waikanae, Carterton, Takaka, Stoke, Fendalton Mall, Bishopdale, Gardens, Fairlie, Ranfurly and Te Anau.

Westpac said it would provide alternatives for customers, including digital devices for community use and upgraded ATM and deposit facilities.

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