Westpac tech job cuts may not be the last

More IT workers at Westpac may face the axe before the end of 2012, according to the bank, which today announced the loss of 119 technology-related jobs within Australia.

The bank told Computerworld Australia that the jobs slash this week would likely be followed by more cuts by the year's end.

“At this stage, we can expect staff numbers will be less by the end of the year, but we have no specific targets,” a Westpac spokesperson said.

The latest technology job cuts include roles that support IT development and system maintenance, which are expected to be sent offshore to India or the Philippines.

According to the Westpac spokesperson, affected staff were informed of their impending termination in November 2011 and are now being reviewed for possible re-deployment within the company. However, employment is not guaranteed.

A majority of the jobs are located in the Sydney CBD and Kogarah in New South Wales, with additional losses in Queensland, South Australia and Victoria.

The spokesperson cited “significant structural business change” for the latest round of cuts.

The loss of 119 jobs follows statements from Westpac’s CIO, Clive Whincup, who in February told CIO Magazine that he preferred to use Australian-based skills where possible.

“I’m not a fan of outsourcing for outsourcing’s sake,” he said.

“Our policy is to ensure that we have a highly skilled and experienced IT organisation retained in Australia.”

According to the Finance Sector Union (FSU), the cutting of 119 staff was more about Wstpac's desire to further cut costs and increase profits than a lack of technology skills within Australia.

"The only reason [the staff] are losing their jobs is because our most profitable bank thinks it can now get the job done more cheaply offshore,” FSU national secretary, Leon Carter, said in a statement issued after the announcement of the cuts.

FSU spokesperson, Leanne Shingles, told Computerworld Australia that it was hard for terminated staff to understand the latest job cuts following reports Westpac posted full-year profits of $6.9 billion in the year to September.

The latest move follows Westpac's decision to cut 560 positions in early February, as well as 28 IT management roles in its BT Financial Group and Westpac Institutional Bank divisions.

The finance industry has already seen 2000 jobs shed since the beginning of 2012.

Follow Diana Nguyen on Twitter: @diananguyen9

Follow Computerworld Australia on Twitter: @ComputerworldAU

Copyright © 2012 IDG Communications, Inc.

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