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Asians stealing Australian bank jobs

By: Staff Journalist, Singapore
Published: Mar 06, 2012

Australia – Bank employees in Australia are facing with the threat of being terminated as financial institutions shift employment to Asia to reduce costs.

Cheaper labour in Asia, which costs only one-tenth of the pay rate in Australia, has led banks in the country to axe thousands of jobs, Today Tonight reported. Infosys, for example, is recruiting 47,000 new overseas workers to take over Australia's, and other countries’ jobs, in banking systems, IT, telecommunications and call centres, while ANZ is recruiting workers in the Philippines to take over 1,000 jobs.

Early last year, Westpac shed 1,156 jobs and another 188 in November. This year, it terminated 560 Australian employees in February and another 126 last week. Currently, the bank is getting its mid-level employees to train up Indian fly-ins who will go to its training centre in Australia for three to six week courses and then return to their country to be employed in those positions.

While an equivalent Australian job earns A$60,000 (S$80.408) to A$90,000 (S$120,597) a year, the banks only pay them A$7,000 (S$9,379) to A$9,000 (S$12,058.44) annually.

In a statement, Westpac said, "We ask our employees to document key Westpac processes. We don't ask them to train replacements." On positions being made redundant, the bank claimed, it has “an A$8.3 million (S$11.1m) budget this year for redeployment and training as many people as possible into new roles”.

“It's a huge insult for the Australian workers to be told that not only are we going to take your job off you, but before we do that, we're going to require you to train an offshore replacement,” Geoff Derrick from the Financial Sector Union, said. “It’s just wrong isn't it, to bring workers in from overseas, to be trained by our people and then take our jobs away from us, it's wrong and it should stop.”

There are a group of about four companies that operate globally in stealing jobs from developed countries and taking them anywhere in the world where it can be done at a lower price, Derrick added. “Westpac's desperate to shore up their share price so they're cutting their costs wherever they can find an opportunity to do so, but along the way they're shedding loyal workers with many, many years of experience.”

One of the main companies providing overseas replacements is Infosys, an India-based company which organises foreign workers to visit Australia on employer-sponsored 457 visas. These visas are specifically for skilled workers on a temporary stay, and apply only if there are genuine skill gaps which locals are not filling.

The company, which is also in trouble for alleged visa abuse in the US, is recruiting 47,000 new overseas workers to take over jobs, in banking systems, IT, telecommunications and call centres in Australia and other countries. Rules dictate that overseas outsourcers can only visit the country on business visas on short-term travels for meetings and conferences – not for foreigners doing actual work.

The Australian government is investigating the use of 457 visas.

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