NAB has told employees it “cares” about them and will go about a plan to axe thousands of jobs in a “respectful” way, in an effort to stem a furious backlash over the shock job cuts.
On Thursday, NAB blindsided bank staff when it announced a radical, three-year overhaul of the business that would include cutting 6000 jobs.
The plan will also see 2000 new jobs created in different parts of the business, though no detail was given either on what these new jobs would look like, or which jobs would be cut.
However, NAB said the move was driven by the rise of digital banking, suggesting the bank’s branch staff would be in the firing line.
NAB employees, through the Finance Sector Union, immediately accused the bank of putting “technology and profits before people”, and called for “urgent talks” with chief executive Andrew Thorburn.
“Detail is light on how the bank has determined that 6000 jobs are to be cut, and where and when,” FSU national secretary Julia Angrisano said.
“We have requested urgent talks with CEO Andrew Thorburn and his executives on how they have come to this figure. We would also like further information to be provided urgently on the 2000 new jobs they are planning.
“NAB has a professional and skilled workforce and we will be asking how workers can be retrained for the new jobs, rather than being made redundant.”
Ms Angrisano accepted that the current period of “intense digital disruption” would lead to “massive upheaval”, but she argued the bank had a “long-term social responsibility” to its employees.
“Customers in both regional and metropolitan areas want to be served by bank workers. Finance jobs are changing rapidly, but customers need to be front and centre of these decisions too,” she said.
NAB: ‘We care about our people’
Responding to the union’s criticisms, a NAB spokesperson told The New Daily the bank was committed to “making changes to [its] workforce in a respectful, careful and transparent way”.
“We advised our people and the union today [Thursday] and will continue to work through the process of identifying which roles will be affected, where and how with our people.
“We care about our people, and have announced a best-practice transition support program, called ‘The Bridge’, to support those who will leave NAB over the next three years.
“This will build on what we already offer employees who transition out of the bank,” the spokesperson said.
One-fifth of NAB employees faces redundancy
If NAB follows through with its plan to make 6000 employees redundant, that will account for 18 per cent of the bank’s 33,000-strong workforce.
It means nearly one in five NAB employees faces losing their job over the next three years – although some of those may be eligible to fill 2000 new jobs the bank intends to create.
The announcement came the same day the bank posted full-year profits of $5.3 billion – a mismatch that was seized on by unions and the media.
Jim Stanford, economist and director of the Australia Institute’s Centre for Future Work, said the bank’s decision to cut so many jobs was “the wrong choice” in light of its massive profits.
“This is a company that can afford to create jobs, not destroy jobs,” he said.
“It goes to show that we’ve lost the forest for the trees. We’ve forgotten what work and business is all about.”
He added that the phenomenon of an extremely profitable company massively cutting jobs was “proof” that trickle-down economics does not work.