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  Issue No 49 Official Organ of LaborNet 07 April 2000  




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The Last Bank in Minto

By Mark Hearn

"It's a busy branch", Carol Davison insists, watching the crowd gather around the Commonwealth Bank branch at Minto Mall. By the time you read this, the branch will be another empty shopfront, stripped of its fittings, with junk mail starting to accumulate under the front door.


Peter Presdee, Secretary CBO Section of the FSU with member Carol Davison at the Minto launch of the S.O.S. Ambulance.

The Commonwealth Bank (CBA) closed the Minto branch on Friday, 7 April. The ten staff have been relocated. Customers now have to bank at either Ingleburn or Campbelltown. For many of them, that's an hour on the bus, there and back.

Carol is standing out the front of the Minto branch today, unable to enter her employer's branch because a security guard refuses to let her in. Carol is part of a Finance Sector Union protest against the closure - against the obliteration of bank branches across Australia.

300 CBA branches are likely to close due to "Ezy Banking" (that's banking without a bank). Another 250 will go if the CBA's merger with Colonial proceeds. You'll soon have more chance of meeting a Tasmanian Tiger than a bank teller.

The FSU is taking it's S.O.S. ambulance ("Save our Services" and "Save our Staff") around Australia to highlight the devastation of jobs and branches in the banking industry.

Peter Presdee, the NSW Secretary of the FSU's Commonwealth Bank Section, urges customers gathered outside the Minto branch to sign a petition calling on the Howard Government to introduce a "Social Charter", to make the banks take responsibility for their customer's needs, and breathe some legislative life into the rhetoric of the banks "community obligation".

It's an "obligation" the banks, left to self-regulate, have been gleefully ignoring. As FSU Assistant National Secretary Geoff Derrick observes, "since 1993, 2,000 bank branches have closed and 40,000 industry jobs have disappeared - while banks have deposited a $40 billion profit."

Carol has worked at the Minto branch. She knows the customers - the unemployed and the pensioners, single mothers, local small business operators. This is battler country, on the south-western fringe of the city. Far from the decision makers in Martin Place, drawing the razor through the branch list. The battlers keep the Minto branch busy, but not sufficiently profitable by the aggressive standards of corporate finance. "It was the last bank left in Minto", Carol says.

Two or three times a week, Mellissa Cutmore and her daughter April walked to the bank. Did a bit of banking: probably had a bit of a chat. "The ATM's not like the teller service", Mellissa says. "My parents don't even know how to use an ATM". Mellissa and April brought their own, hand-made contribution to the FSU's protest.

Carol also believes the closure will slowly kill Minto Mall. The adjacent pet shop is closing up, the bank shutdown the last straw. Long-distance banking has little appeal for small business operators.

Across the road, some of the locals sit and wait for the bus. They probably don't realise that they have not done enough to build shareholder value. They just wanted a bank, part of the framework of a community. Now blank glass panels stare back at that them. That used to be the pet shop. That was our bank.


*    Follow the SOS Tour - Visit the FSU

*   View entire issue - print all of the articles!

*   Issue 49 contents

In this issue
*  Interview: Rebuilding from the Rubble
Ramona Mitussis, APHEDA's co-ordinator in East Timor reports on how Australian workers are contributing to rebuilding a nation.
*  East Timor: UN Poseurs Delay Reconstruction
Returning to the Dili compound where he spent five days under siege, HT Lee finds an aid bureacracy out of control.
*  Unions: The Last Bank in Minto
"It's a busy branch", Carol Davison insists, watching the crowd gather around the Commonwealth Bank branch at Minto Mall. By the time you read this, the branch will be another empty shopfront, stripped of its fittings, with junk mail starting to accumulate under the front door.
*  International: Workers of the World Unite
ILO Director-General Juan Somavia's keynote address to the ICFTU Congress in Durban, South Africa this week.
*  Olympics: Strange Tenants
Rentwatchers lifts the lid on the legacy the 2000 Games will leave on Sydney's tenants.
*  Politics: The Loneliness Crisis
Lindsay Tanner looks at the politics of the soul that form the backdrop of many of our social ills.
*  History: Songs of Solidarity
Visiting US labour acadmeic John Lund has found a new way to digest history - he commits workers' struggles to song.
*  Satire: Seven Launches 'Popstars' Spin-off
On the heels of Popstars comes a new show taking five minor celebrities and turning them into normal people
*  Review: Keating's Engagement
Whether it's analysis or self-justification, Paul Keating's new book is an engaging read.

»  Free East Timor? For the Workers, It's Just Cheap
»  Maria Wins Historic Email Test Case
»  More Hot Air: Cyclone Telstra Hits Townsville
»  Cleaners Walk: We Are Humans, Not Robots!
»  Reith's Day in the Dock Draws Near
»  Olympics Tickets: One Size Doesn't Fit All
»  Back Door Sell-Off of Nursing Home Beds
»  Entitlement Changes Fail to Protect Workers
»  Shaw Sets Safety Guidelines
»  Water Workers Ready to Walk
»  Honour for Jack Mundy
»  Lindsay Tanner Chat Session
»  Radio Free East Timor Fundraiser Thursday
»  Workers Online Turns 50 Next Week!

»  The Soapbox
»  The Locker Room
»  Trades Hall
»  Tool Shed

Letters to the editor
»  Public Meeting: Globalised Capital and International Labour.

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