Union claims CBA layoffs due to ‘automation’

CBA jobs FSU automation

The Commonwealth Bank of Australia (CBA) is set to axe more than 190 jobs across its retail banking services arm, with the bank reportedly declaring to the Financial Services Union (FSU) that “automation initiatives” have driven the jobs cuts.

CBA reportedly informed the FSU that 192 jobs will be cut from back-office operations within its retail banking and home lending divisions.

The FSU reports that the bank’s home buying operations will lose 87 workers, while its consumer finance and everyday banking divisions are set to lose 47 and 21 workers respectively.

Affected workers are based in CBA’s Sydney, Melbourne and Perth offices, with around nine also set to depart from Bankwest’s lending division.

According to the peak FSI employee advocacy group, the bank has claimed that “automation initiatives” within its retail banking and home lending divisions had “simplified processes” within these divisions, ultimately leading to the job cuts.

The FSU warned that job losses would continue across the industry due to banks’ increasing adoption of automated processing.

“Workers in the financial services sector should be enormously concerned that Australia’s largest bank is now making workers redundant because of automation,” the FSU said in a statement.

While declining to comment on the FSU’s specific reference to ‘automation’, a CBA spokesperson said the bank “regularly [reviews] the skills we need and how we organised… as part of our focus on constant business improvement”.

“That means from time to time some roles and work will change or no longer be required.”

The spokesperson added: “These decisions are never easy nor are they taken lightly. Our priority is to treat every individual with respect and care, taking time to talk with each employee impacted to understand individual circumstances and work with them on finding opportunities and building skills to support them for another role in or outside the bank.”

CBA backed its decision by stating that, “since 2021, we have recruited more than 10,000 people, reinforcing our position as one of Australia’s largest employers”.

The advocate, which questioned CBA’s decision to axe the jobs in addition to the “more than a thousand jobs [cut] in the last year”, claimed the bank “has a huge problem with staff shortages and excessive workloads and cutting staff does nothing to reduce that concern for workers” – a point that the CBA spokesperson disputed, but did not add further commentary on.

FSU National Secretary Julia Angrisano said: “The jobs being lost are specialists across a range of areas and it is hard to believe that the bank can afford to lose so many experienced staff at the same time that it has a significant overwork problem across the organisation.”

“Workers in the financial services sector should be enormously concerned that Australia’s largest bank is now making workers redundant because of automation.”


Speaking at the company’s annual general meeting today (11/10), CBA chair Paul O’Malley, in response to a question from the FSU on the decline in the bank’s Australian workforce numbers being offset by an increase in its India-based workforce numbers, conceded the bank would struggle to find the skills locally to support its technology development and customer security needs.

He said the company maintains a “very competitive workplace”, with competition from bigtech and other tech-centred firms for talent.

“It is in this context [that] we have to reshape our workforce.”

He said the company has made significant investments in its engineering hubs to support its technology initiatives, as well as to support its KYC [Know Your Customer] obligations.

However, he noted that there “aren’t the skills in Australia to manage this need… [and as such] we’ve gone overseas to manage this capability”.

“We have a very substantial workforce in Australia, but also a dynamic working environment. We need to invest in broader capability that we can source beyond Australia, including in India,” he said.

“We’re committed to Australia,” O’Malley said. “Australia is our primary footprint. We can’t do anything without the quality and capability of our Australian workforce.”

“We’ll always have a large workforce in Australia; however, he said, this workforce will be “complemented” by workers in CBA’s offshore hubs.