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Westpac are censoring its Facebook page in a bid to stave off criticism, as it chops jobs and hikes interest rates.

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Negative comments were deleted off the corporate Facebook page “within minutes” over the weekend – some from its own staff – according to Fairfax Media.

One employee who took to the social media site to express dismay at the recently announced jobs cuts at the bank, saw the comments quickly swiped off the site by Westpac’s Facebook team, who were busy censoring the site in what appears to be a PR offensive.

“All I said on my post was that the government guaranteed that Australian banks had been supported at the height of the global financial crisis and I think they have a responsibility to keep people in jobs,” the Westpac worker told Sun-Herald.

The banking giant announced last week it would be cutting its staff numbers again, with as many as 560 to be laid off mostly at Sydney locations, according to Finance Sector Union, although Westpac insist this is an inflated figure, with real number closer to 400.

These cutbacks come as the second largest bank reported stellar net profit (after tax) $6.9bn in 2011 – a rise of 10% on last year.

The last offical comment made on its Facebook page was Friday last at 9.56pm, was a quote from Westpac Retail and Business Banking exec, Jason Yetton, who defended the decision to raise interest rates on its standard home loan by 0.10% (to 7.46%).

“While we believe that reducing rates in November and December last year was the right thing to do for our customers and the economy, higher deposit costs and higher wholesale funding costs since then make today’s move necessary,” he said.

However, there was some negative comments still left on the site on Friday afternoon, including one from a disgruntled consumer, Michael A Georgiou, who wote: ” Funny how there have been no Bank commercials in the last few days,” followed by 22 others from similarly pissed off consumers.

Another customer wrote: ” Well done Westpac, you’ve finally managed to motivate me to close my accounts with you.”

 

Westpac’s Facebook site has almost 2000 ‘likes’ but its hard to see anyone, staff and customers alike, give a Facebook ‘Like’ to these latest moves.

Westpac employs almost 34,000 staff across the country. Another employee of the bank who wished to remain anonymous told SmartHouse ” I haven’t heard anything about this” internally so far this morning.

The bank could not be contacted at the time of publication.

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