Forty branches of Kiwibank could close before Christmas, with more to close in the New Year, says a union leader.
Kiwibank has announced the intention to close three subsidiaries in the last two weeks in the Nelson suburb of Stoke and the Wellington suburbs of Petone and Johnsonville. Branches share the location with NZ Post.
Joe Gallagher, national organizer of the union, said the closures at Kiwibank followed NZ Post's decision to "completely separate" from Kiwibank.
"It's a pretty aggressive time around the separation, so they do almost half of the stores before Christmas and the rest after Christmas," he said.
"There are about 205 people affected before Christmas, there are about 14 stores before Christmas," he said.
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Gallagher said the European Union is working with many people who will be affected by closures.
"We're working with Kiwibank to see how you've transformed, because there will be layoffs out of it. We're looking at how you move those people [currently working in NZ Post roles at combined branches] in those bank roles, and to help people take layoffs and move on. "
He said the same number of closures would take place again after Christmas.
Gallagher said he thought the closure of Stoke's Kiwibank Branch was linked to the 2013 change in the NZ Post deal.
"Five years ago, the national government changed the deal and so governed NZ Post in terms of the number of corporate mail stores it must have," he said.
"What everyone missed [at the time] the government allowed NZ Post to reduce the number of tangible stores they were supposed to have as long as they provided service points. What you see now is all that has been bleeding in the system. "
However, a NZ Post spokesman said he did not shut down or downgrade services in any field and said any planned changes would have been allowed under the previous act.
"We want to assure communities that there are no plans to withdraw postal services from any area," the spokesman said.
"NZ Post and Kiwibank are two independent businesses that currently share space in some areas. With the long-term strategies of the two organizations moving in different directions, now is the right time to review the co-location."
NZ Post wanted to collaborate with other companies.
"We are committed to providing postal services in New Zealand. What we do more and more in our network is to look for local companies to collaborate to help us deliver postal services.
"While we recognize that partnership with local businesses is a change in where people will have access to these services, they will continue to be available in the community." NZ Post makes these decisions in the decline of correspondence as a way to function in – a sustainable way, so that we can continue to provide services to communities for many years to come. "
The spokesman said that any change would be discussed with the staff before making a public comment and said most of the staff in the NZ Post subsidiaries were hired by Kiwibank.
Kiwibank's external communications manager, Kara Tait, said the changes announced for the branches at this stage were intentions. There would be no change before NZ Post secured new partnerships with other companies.
"We have 90 percent of people doing online transactions now, as it was when Kiwibank began 17 years ago, is quite different from how people are banking now."
Tait said customer feedback at Kiwibank indicated that when they entered a branch, they were looking for more than daily transactions.
"What our customers have said is that they want in-depth conversations when they enter a bank branch, so they want to talk about how they can better manage their money or who want to talk about mortgages or futures and have those conversations in depth.
"Demand for what customers want means that we have moved into autonomous branches already in some areas, and there will be more in the future, which is obviously a change."
Tait said that Kiwibank continuously reviews retail outlets according to customer activity and how much they can offer services through online banking or mobile banking.
She said the branches planned to close were those in the vicinity of other Kiwibank outlets. Buildings announced in Johnsonville, Petone and Stoke were all less than 10 km away from other Kiwibank branches.
"This week we announced changes in our network of stores in Coromandel, Waikato, Wellington and Nelson. We open independent branches in Thames, Whitianga, Waihi, Matamata, Cambridge, Te Awamutu, Tokoroa and Lower Hutt.