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Westpac to close 19 branches: union

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 11/08/2016

Westpac Bank is considering closing 19 of its branches, with dozens of jobs threatened, a union says.

First Union's national organiser Tali Williams says staff were on Wednesday notified the bank was looking at closing a number of branches, mostly in rural areas or small towns.

The union believed about 72 jobs were at threat and only about 20 of the staff would be redeployed.

"We think many more of those jobs could be redeployed and Westpac needs to look at that," she said.

Ms Williams said many of the communities that would be affected by the closures were remote and customers would be left travelling long distances - sometimes up to an hour - to do their banking.

"Branches like Raglan and Ranfurly there's no other branches for any other banks available," she said.

"It's not always possible to carry out all your transactions online."

It was likely a decision would be made mid-September with closures possible in October, she said.

"We're calling on Westpac to do the right thing and keep those branches open. What they're going to see in the weeks to come is strong community resistance to those proposals," she said.

"When we talk to our members, they're saying they see customers streaming through their doors every day."

In a statement, Westpac said it had told staff about a proposal but would not comment on details.

"Staff and customers will be the first to know that decision and there will be no further public comment until then."

The bank said it was reviewing the needs of customers and said more than 85 per cent of its transactions were now taking place outside of branches.

"In addition, over the last five years, online transactions increased by 61 per cent and in the last year online logins via a mobile device have increased by 33 per cent."

BANKS PROPOSED TO CLOSE, ACCORDING TO FIRST UNION:

*Carterton

*Christchurch - Fendalton and Bishopdale

*Dunedin - North East Valley

*Fairlie

*Otorohanga

*Palmerston North - Broadway Avenue

*Putaruru

*Raglan

*Ranfurly

*Stoke

*Takaka

*Tauranga - Otumoetai

*Te Anau

*Te Aroha

*Waikanae

*Wainuiomata

*Whangamata

*Whangarei - Kamo

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