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Banks ignore rural New Zealand as strikes continue

24 May 2005
For immediate release

Banks ignore rural New Zealand as strikes continue

While ANZ National Bank is striving to keep its big city branches open in the midst of rolling strikes, it is letting rural and suburban branches close, or remain open with severly reduced staff numbers.

“It appears that the bank has made a decision about which branches it will endeavour to keep open in this dispute, with disregard for the loyalty of its customers. Is that the kind of attitude that is likely to be shown towards loyal customers and staff as the integration continues?” Said Finsec Campaigns Director, Karen Skinner.

While the bank has pulled in managers and temporary/casual staff from around the country to keep branches such as Ponsonby Road and Courtney Place open, towns like Stratford, Twizel and Waitara as well as suburbs like Manurewa and Otahuhu have closed due to strikes. Many branches appear to have remained open on severly reduced numbers.

The National Bank brand has tradionally claimed to put a high value on its rural customers, and ANZ National Bank has 43% of the rural market. ANZ Australia has been trying to break into the rural market in recent years. As the two brands move towards integration, following ANZ’s purchase of National last year, workers are trying to protect their employment conditions, such as compensation for working weekends and evenings, from being eroded.

“Rural customers may want to start asking similar questions as bank workers; Will this bank treat me the same when it has merged into one large megabank, with a change agenda driven from Australia? Why is it trying so hard to keep its inner city branches open, yet doing nothing to treat its staff in rural areas fairly?” said Karen Skinner.


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