Wednesday, February 15, 2012

ANZ sheds 1000 jobs to fuel yet bigger profits

In the relative calm of the Australian economy, banks such as the ANZ are imposing the austerity of unemployment on thousands of workers to boost their multi-billion-dollar profits.

Yesterday The Age reported that, in addition to the 1000 jobs being shed by the ANZ, up to 10,000 jobs could go from the financial services sector in Australia within the next two years.

Today the paper ran my letter ("Blameless pay for global greed") responding to this coverage. Here's the unedited version:

So the banks, with their obscene profits, executive salaries and bonuses, and to protect their profitability and competitiveness from unfavourable circumstances, are set to impose the austerity of unemployment on perhaps 10,000 workers over the next two years. For the job cuts - beginning with Westpac and the ANZ - are indeed austerity measures, imposed on those blameless for the profligacy, greed and recklessness of global financial institutions.

Yet, with Australia riding the economic storm better than most, austerity does indeed imply blame on those who must bear its burden here. Workers unable to find jobs will be forced to rely on a welfare safety-net that the conservative champions of austerity seek at every turn to unpick. They will be forced into a job market competing against their peers in a sector-wide downturn, their options in public employment diminished - especially in Victoria, where the State Government will shed 3600 jobs.

On these happy tidings the ANZ share price increased yesterday [Tuesday], the numbers looking good for a corporation set to shed so much of its unnecessary human freight. If you are an ANZ shareholder - indeed a shareholder in any bank trading on the human misery of joblessness - please turn away from those who, without any semblance of genuine regret, or indeed emotion, can announce on television that this mass loss of livelihoods is merely "regrettable".
The bloodless headline of the ANZ's media release read, "ANZ announces changes in Australia to respond to emerging business environment". The Financial Services Union release spoke more plainly with "ANZ announces massive job cuts".

Detailed coverage aired on ABC News and the ABC's 7.30 Report.

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