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Bank Workers Call On Govt For Help, English Says He Can't

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

By Peter Wilson of NZPA

Wellington, May 5 NZPA - Bank workers lined up support from Labour and the Greens when they came to Parliament today to ask the Government to help protect their jobs.

Their union, Finsec, wants the Government to make job protection a condition of the deposit and loan guarantees it is giving to banks to help them get through the recession.

Finsec handed in a petition carrying 10,500 signatures but before it reached Parliament Finance Minister Bill English had ruled out using the guarantee scheme for job protection.

Earlier today he said it would be too heavy handed to do that and removing a guarantee from a bank if it didn't meet job protection obligations would have a severe economic and employment impact.

He said the petition would be considered.

"We'll see if we can take it anywhere but I think it would be fair to tell them now that there's no prospect the Government would remove the bank guarantee because of a loss of bank jobs," he said.

Finsec general secretary Andrew Cassidy said he didn't accept Mr English's position.

"We don't think the guarantees would have to be removed, it's simply a question of saying the banks have obligations -- and they won't do anything without being told," he said.

"The banks got corporate tax cuts last year and the government guarantees, there's nothing in return."

Mr Cassidy said about 25,000 people were employed by banks and about 1000 jobs had been lost in the last six months.

Green Party MP Sue Bradford said the Government had removed the risk for banks with the guarantee scheme, which was backed with taxpayer money.

"But there's no requirement for them to retain staff. We have a right to demand a quid pro quo," she said.

Labour MP Trevor Mallard said the banks needed to think very carefully whether they wanted New Zealand to have a thriving economy.

Finsec also brought an opinion poll with them which showed 79 percent of New Zealanders back their call for the guarantee scheme to be used to help protect their jobs.

NZPA PAR pw nb

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