With news of the planned closure of Clare’s Commonwealth Bank Branch in June, the Finance Sector Union (FSU) was in town last Thursday with a petition to try and change the bank’s decision.
And if the response received by FSU SA/NT branch local executive secretary, Jason Hall, during his visit is anything to go by, Clare residents are right behind the union’s plea to keep the branch open.
“First and foremost I’m in Clare to talk to staff at the bank and make sure they’re ok,” Mr Hall said.
“The petition is about trying to change the bank’s decision if we can, which is not an easy thing to do.
“We just want to make sure the CBA (Commonwealth Bank of Australia) has considered all options.
“Going from a full time branch to closure is a big step, and we just want to make sure they have considered options such as restricted hours.
“Considering CBA made $9.9 million last year, keeping the branch open even with reduced hours is an option they should have considered.”
Mr Hall said locals he had spoken to on the street were angry and concerned about the bank closure, and he also had some concerns about using Australia Post as an alternative option to a bank branch.
“People have been wanting to sign the petition, they seem seriously angry about this decision,” he said.
“I had an elderly person come to me and say they are extremely stressed this branch is going to close; they don’t have a car to get to another branch.
“There have been other individuals and businesses who are concerned about banking at Australia Post because of privacy issues and services available.
“I’m concerned for the safety of the Australia Post staff who will have to hold larger volumes of cash and they don’t have the same level of security as a bank.”
Mr Hall said while customer numbers had reduced, it was partly due to the bank leading customers to be less reliant on teller services, potentially leaving them in the lurch once the branch closes.
“They (CBA) put targets on their staff to migrate customers to use services such as the Smart ATM (automatic teller machine), which is hypocritical in a way,” he said.
“A CBA business customer told me once the branch is closed they have been told they won’t be able to make deposits using the ATM.
“This has been a benefit to them as the money would be in their account overnight and is one of the things they were conditioned to do by the bank.
“They were very disappointed to hear that after using the service, it would now be taken away.
“It is hypocritical that the CBA would condition customers to use these services and reduce foot traffic in the branch, and then shut the branch due to the reduced foot traffic and yet remove one of the services that caused it to start with.”
During his visit to Clare last week, Mr Hall delivered the FSU petitions to a number of local businesses where they are now available to sign.