Commonwealth Bank Australia (CBA) is set to slash over 250 positions across its consumer and business banking units, just weeks after it was revealed another financial institution axed 751 jobs.
The bank is the latest company to make staff cuts, with roles in the service and IT departments in the firing line.
Hundreds of CBA staff have been left in the lurch as executives work to determine which employees will be redeployed while others will be let go.
“As part of our focus on business improvement, we regularly review the skills we need and how we are organised. That means from time to time some roles and work can change or may no longer be required,” a CBA spokesman said.
“Where there are roles that are no longer required in their current form, we work closely with our people to redeploy as many as possible. These decisions are never easy nor are taken lightly.
“Our priority is to treat every individual with respect and care, taking time to talk with each employee impacted to understand individual circumstances and work with them on finding opportunities and building skills to support them for another role in or outside the bank.”
The spokesman concluded there are no reductions to customer-facing team members who serve customers in branch, on the phone or online.
CBA currently employs 50,000 people across Australia and internationally and has recruited more than 10,000 people since 2021.
It’s understood the job cuts come amid the CBA trying to decrease its expenditure, however the Finance Sector Union (FSU) has slammed this view stating such cuts will just put more pressure on existing staff.
“The jobs being lost are specialists across a range of areas, and it is hard to believe that the bank can afford to lose so many experienced staff at the same time that it has a significant overwork problem,” FSU national secretary Julia Angrisano said in a statement.
“CBA staff are concerned that the job losses will lead to further workload problems for remaining staff, which will ultimately impact on customers.”
The union told theAustralian Financial Review CBA is axing jobs predominantly situated in Sydney and Melbourne. It added that up to 822 roles would be slashed however 571 of those workers will be redeployed.
The CBA did not comment on the above claim made by the FSU.
Not the first of the big four banks to make cuts
CBA’s move comes less than a fortnight after the union declared Westpac had cut more than 750 jobs in as little as seven weeks amid a cost of living crisis.
According to the FSU, Westpac has axed hundreds of jobs across 21 areas since the end of May, with more anticipated cuts to come.
The string of job cuts commenced on May 24 – the union reports – just weeks after the bank recorded a 22 per cent surge in its six-month net profit to just over $4 billion.
Last month saw the largest number of jobs axed for the bank, with 620 positions either sent offshore, or made redundant.
Vulnerable positions included those in the IT, private wealth, consumer and business banking, head office, marketing and group operations departments.
A Westpac spokesman said the cuts were first flagged at the beginning of last year and added the impacted employees were being “supported”.
“In February 2022, we announced plans to simplify the bank, improve accountability and reduce costs. This ongoing reorganisation is part of our simplification and cost reset program,” they said.
“We’ll be supporting our employees as we make these changes.”
The FSU also criticised Westpac’s decision to cut jobs, saying the bank chose to prioritise “profits over people”.
“This clearly demonstrates Westpac is making a choice to prioritise profits over people,” the FSU said in a statement.
“Westpac is a very profitable bank built off the backs of hardworking staff who go above and beyond every day.
“These cuts are a slap in the face to those who have worked so hard to get the bank to where it is today and shows a blatant disregard for its staff, customers and communities.”
Redundancies here to stay
Job cuts are here to stay according to Brisbane employment lawyer Jonathan Mamaril who said years of increased wages due to the pandemic and the cost of living crunch has driven employers to rethink their payroll as they look for ways to make cuts to their expenditure.
“The first major wave of the wages correction cycle is likely to hit just before Christmas, extending into the first quarter of 2024,” Mr Mamaril told the Australian Business Network.
“Overpaid employees will be the first on the chopping block. In many instances, desperate businesses were forced to pay 30 per cent above industry and job level averages to secure staff.”
Other jobs likely to go are those that can be outsourced, such as roles in administration, human resources and marketing.
“Businesses are still happy to pay top dollar for highly skilled and experienced staff who deliver results,” Mr Mamaril said.
“(But) the staff overpayment days of last year, where employees dictated conditions and salary expectations are over.”