Two of Australia’s biggest banks have angered unions by confirming that they plan to send more jobs overseas.
Westpac and ANZ are planning to move 250 jobs overseas to centres in India and other Asian countries in the latest round of outsourcing. The jobs include mortgage operations and debt collection and the jobs will be lost in Adelaide and Sydney.
Unions say Australian jobs are being sacrificed for cheap labour, but the banks say it’s just part of the globalised finance world. Westpac spokesman Paul Marriage said the bank had starting outsourcing again after suspending the practice in 2009 in the wake of the global financial crisis.
‘Now that unemployment has come down, we’ve decided it’s the right time to recommence our outsourcing. It enables us to support customers to through global expertise, to extend available processing time, capability and efficiency,’ he added.
According to the Finance Services Union (FSU), there will be a loss of 100 jobs at Westpac and another 150 at ANZ where the jobs are being moved to the Philippines and India.
‘We’re moving roles to those locations to improve customer service. We’re freeing up our front line to focus on having more face time with customers,’ said ANZ spokesman Stephen Ries.
Both banks said they were committed to helping relocate affected workers who wanted to keep working there within the group, with ANZ expecting most workers to remain within the company.
Nevertheless, the FSU condemned the decision. Workers in the industry are sick of ‘living on the knife-edge, according to FSU National Secretary Leon Carter. ‘Banks have a responsibility to invest in Australia and that includes investing in Australian jobs. If they don’t do it, and all they care about is making more money, then it’s time the Federal Government stepped in and outlawed off shoring,’ he said.
‘What is required is a long-term plan for the future of jobs and skills for our industry; a plan that involves government, employers, and employees and their union,’ he added.He said the union rejected claims this outsourcing improved customer service and said instead it placed more pressure on remaining Australian workers and could lead to offshore mistakes.
It is estimated that in recent years around 5,000 jobs in the banking industry have gone offshore. The moves come as Australian banks are expanding their overseas operations in Asia. All four of the country’s major retail banks have received licenses for various operations in either China or India in recent months.
Westpac received final approval to open a branch in Beijing in late May. The bank has had a branch in Shanghai since 2008 and has plans to open two more branches in China.
ANZ opened its first branch in India two weeks ago in Mumbai, the country’s financial capital.