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Source: First Union

The union representing finance workers has described the proposal by insurance giant IAG to close all of its 53 AMI stores in New Zealand as irresponsible and short-sighted, warning that big companies like AMI are using the Covid-19 crisis to justify ‘unpalatable’ business decisions that will harm workers and local communities and threaten to jeopardise the shared project of rebuilding local economies after the pandemic, FIRST Union said today.
“AMI is using Covid as an excuse to make self-interested business decisions that will make workers and communities around New Zealand worse off – we have to call it what it is,” said Callum Francis, FIRST Union National Organiser for Finance.
“They are trying to ride a worrying wave in the finance industry where suddenly ‘digital-first’ strategies have re-emerged from the woodwork and workers are getting surprised by these ad-hoc consultation periods and over-reaching proposals that go far beyond what’s necessary to meet an increased customer preference for digital services.”
AMI’s proposal would see all 53 of its New Zealand stores closed, with up to 65 retail jobs lost from Whangarei to Invercargill alongside general proposals for redeployment that Mr Francis says are impulsive and premature at this point in time.
“The workers I spoke to today were devastated and wanted me to convey that they see themselves and their jobs as actual parts of their local communities, not just assets on a balance sheet,” said Mr Francis.
“The company have given no real or credible indications that their profitability is at stake, let alone their survival – this is a knee-jerk reaction to Covid and it represents the company turning its back on New Zealand’s communities at the drop of a hat.”
“I would have thought an insurance magnate like IAG, above anyone, would recognise the general financial principle that making early cuts is always worse than riding out hard times and being part of the recovery.”
“Our worry now is that others in the finance industry – banks as well as insurers – are already mulling similar proposals and will follow suit in an exodus from the regions that could leave thousands jobless.”
“We’re calling on all those self-proclaimed ‘champions of the regions’ in Parliament to step up and call this what it is before IAG gets away with it scot-free and sets a terrible example for everyone else in the industry to follow.”