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Westpac mulling branch closures

The major bank has revealed that it is considering the closure of six of the group's branches in Queensland. 

 Westpac has confirmed it has proposed closures for six of its 18 St George branches in Brisbane, a result of a “significant decline” with more customers opting to bank online.

The Finance Sector Union (FSU) has reported St George branches in Ashgrove, Capalaba, Loganholme, Kippa Ring, Morayfield and Victoria Point in Brisbane will be shutting their doors in November. 

In addition, Westpac Glenside in Adelaide was said to be closing, however a spokesperson for the bank said the shopping centre the branch is placed in has been refurbished and its lease has not been renewed – the shopfront may be relocating.

Further, the union also stated Westpac alerted local politicians ahead of staff, which it stated it will be writing to the bank about. 

According to FSU local executive secretary (Queensland) Wendy Streets, Westpac has closed 67 branches across Australia so far this year.

A spokesperson for St George commented: “Over the past few years, we’ve experienced a significant decline in customer transactions undertaken through our branches, as more and more customers choose to do their banking in different ways, for example digital banking. 

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“St George Bank will continue to invest in Queensland branches where our customers are choosing to bank, this will include improving the technology and services we offer our customers across the state,” the spokesperson said.

While the union believes a total of 28 staff will be affected from all seven Queensland and South Australia closures with only four to be redeployed, the bank’s spokesperson told Investor Daily the job loss numbers were incorrect. 

The FSU is concerned there is a lack of opportunities for workers to be redeployed or to maintain their employment by reskilling. 

St George has said it is consultation with its people regarding the potential branch changes, and will support staff if they are to go ahead.

“There are 18 branches in the greater Brisbane area and with this latest announcement of six closures the bank will be cutting 34 per cent of the branch network and 25 per cent of their workforce,” Ms Streets said.

“It is not good enough for Westpac to put profits before people and communities. While the banks all claim they shut branches because customers are using internet banking, we know the real reason is that the branch doesn’t generate enough profits for the bank.

“How can Westpac claim to be working hard to regain the trust and confidence of workers and local communities following the Hayne royal commission when it has closed 67 branches so far this year across Australia. Closing these branches, deserting customers and making staff redundant is a disgrace,” she said.

Similarly, ANZ confirmed earlier this week it would be dropping branches in Victoria and South Australia, after already closing 20 across the two states in 2019.

ANZ chief Shayne Elliott said branches were becoming “uneconomic” during the royal commission. 

Bendigo and Adelaide Bank chair Robert Johnason last month declared his bank would be re-engineering and further digitising its operation, commenting the old way of working and the role of branches would have to be reassessed.

[Related: ANZ to close branches in Victoria, SA]

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