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Westpac’s charity stunt is a cynical cover-up

Media Release Finsec, the finance workers' union

1 December 2005

Westpac’s charity stunt is a cynical cover-up

Westpac’s planned Christmas donation to the Family Budgeting Service is being called horribly ironic by Finsec, the bank workers’ union, today.

“Many clients to the budgeting service are there because they are in debt that they cannot pay back to banks. Westpac’s pay system rewards staff for getting customers into debt. Clearly they are trying to cover up this unethical behavior through this donation.” said Finsec’s Campaign Director, Karen Skinner. “This is hypocritical and unethical.”

“The Family Budgeting Service is an crucial and worthy recipient of Christmas donations from corporations. However, it is deeply ironic that a corporation that that has just made another huge profit, primarily by selling debt to New Zealanders, is now donating to an organisation that ameliorates the effects of that debt on ordinary New Zealanders.”

Finsec understands that Westpac does not intend to make its donation from their $611 million profit and are planning to announce to staff in the next few weeks that they have funded this donation by not giving them their traditional Christmas present.

“Westpac drives up customer debt to fuel its profits, and penalises staff in the process. Who is Westpac CEO Ann Sherry trying to kid with this ‘charity’ stunt?” asked Ms Skinner.

On the Family Budgeting Service website, one of their recommendations at Christmas time is: “Resist the temptation to borrow or be lured by tempting credit deals. Be honest with yourself about repayments.”

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On the Westpac website it says: “Make the most of your credit card. Find out how to get a credit limit increase…”

Finsec supports the work of the Family Budgeting Service and has written to them asking them to talk to Westpac about what they are doing to drive up this debt, through customer debt targets.

“The best Christmas present the bank could give its customers and bank staff is to replace sales targets with a pay system that rewards giving good service and quality advice, rather than selling customer debt.”

ENDS

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