We were on our honeymoon when he got the first call. It is a policy of the bank where we worked that all affected employees are notified of their retrenchment on the same day.
This ensures that no employee’s redeployment period lasts longer than their co-workers. It also minimises any eventual payout that an employee will receive.
And that day for us was four days after we got married in Vegas and two weeks into our six week trip through the States.
I have been working for a big-four bank for the past five years. I started in a call-centre role and through learning every aspect of the retail business and hard work, I worked my way up to a very senior role. After working there for a year, I met my now husband, a specialist in commercial banking. We moved in together shortly thereafter and adopted some fur children, who were to be the beginning of our small family.
We had saved our money and leave for two years to pay for our own wedding and trip of a lifetime. We spent the remaining four weeks of our trip trying to conserve our depleted funds, regretting embarking on such a long trip and contemplating what would happen to us when we returned to Australia. Our plans of saving for our first home had been seriously derailed let alone any thoughts of children. I regretted spending our money on our wedding day, when now we were faced with living on my sole income.
The bank promised that they would try to find him another suitable role internally, however it was through his own networking skills that he found a new role within a month of our return. We were lucky, but most of my husband’s co-workers were not.
The majority failed to find a new role within the bank and found themselves subsequently unemployed. Their roles were still a required function of the bank but their team were “too expensive” to keep in Australia. Our Philippines-based hub now completes all of their jobs for an annual salary of $6,000AU.
Life forged on and so did the redundancies, departments around us starting to lose functions and roles to off-shoring and it became extremely clear that not one of our jobs was not at risk of off-shoring.
Our old CEO once told us that no customer facing roles would ever be off-shored. A whole department was informed at the start of 2012 their entire function would be completed in Manila within a few years.
A department of over 1,000 staff who are still completing their jobs, knowing quite well that this year or next year might be their last.
My husband received the second call over Easter.
Again, we found ourselves on holidays having taken a short Easter break when they rung. Again, my husband was informed that his role was being off-shored. This time we knew the odds were not in our favour of him finding a new role.
The HR department informed him that they only had 52 open roles in Australia and 500 roles this year have been lost. 500 people competing for 52 roles does not make it easy to find yourself securely employed.
Again we find ourselves working through the next steps; fortunately we had been saving for a deposit on our first home which will act as a buffer until he can find new employment. Most fortunately, I am not pregnant. We have been trying for a baby and it is taking its time, as it does.
One of my husband’s good friends lost his role to off-shoring last year while his wife was seven months pregnant. It has been the single most stressful period in their marriage but with good support they are making it through.
The most amazing part about our situation is that his role is even being off-shored in the first place. My husband strategically made a move into this team under the belief the function would always stay in Australia.
I realise this might not mean much to you as a customer but put simply, we are now placing our faith countries such as the Philippines and Bangalore to review customer’s personal and sensitive information.
That’s your personal information being provided and stored overseas in countries where data security is not protected by Australian laws.
Last week, I was advised that my department was under review. This may very well mean that I might up joining my husband as unemployed. I find out at the end of the month if my role is going to be off-shored.
Combined, we have given fifteen years of our professional careers to our bank – to end up a commodity deemed too expensive to keep in Australia. Our experience and loyalty as employees is not valued as an asset, we are only seen as liabilities. Our bank who just released a record high half year profit has decided it is better to save on employment costs rather than keep customer’s personal information safe.
I know my industry isn’t alone and that my family are not the only ones affected but I feel very alone at this time. I feel so much pressure on my marriage and in my workplace- I can’t remember the last time I got a good night’s sleep.
If more customers realised that their personal data was being sent offshore there would be a national outrage. The government need to ensure that Australian’s have secure employment and secure data. It’s too late for my personal information as my bank off-shored its HR department a few years ago – but it might not be too late for yours.
You can find out more and voice your support to keep your personal data onshore here.
Anonymous is a banking professional who spends her weekends completing a degree in social science and updating her cat’s Facebook page.
Have you or a loved one been made redundant since the GFC? How did you cope?