Union warns of strike if bank refuses to honour agreement

  • Community
  • Friday, 16 May 2014

KUCHING: Sarawak Bank Employees’ Union (SBEU) says it is one step away from asking its 2,300 members to consider striking, blaming HSBC for refusing an “honour agreement”.

The union is claiming the bank had given staff of its soon-to-be-closed commercial arm assurance of job security in February, only to last month deny the commitment.

Yesterday, SBEU submitted a memorandum to the Sarawak Government, urging intervention.

“If the current situation persists, and the ADUNs (elected representatives) are not able to assist, then we’ll go to the next stage, which is to go on strike,” SBEU general-secretary Law Kiat Min told reporters at the Sarawak Legislative Assembly here yesterday.

Law with union members as well as Malaysian Trades Union Congress officials handed over the memorandum addressed to all 71 members of the Assembly.

“To be frank, it (strike) is something we would want to avoid. A strike would involve all other banks as well,” Law added.

The four-page memorandum includes 33 points and eight attachments, inclusive of police reports made this week claiming coercion by the bank, and transcripts between SBEU officials and bank executives.

“On Feb 24, SBEU gave assurance through its top level executives that those who did not apply (for voluntary separation scheme) will not be transferred or retrenched as the bank will be able to find a role for them in their home town,” the SBEU memorandum said.

“On April 16, the CEO (of the bank said) will not honour the commitment given on Feb 24. He even had the audacity to claim there was no such commitment.”

Law told reporters the union was also standing firm on its request for the bank to offer the separation scheme to all HSBC staff in Sarawak, and not just its commercial banking employees.

The union, he said, believed the targeted offer was “discriminatory”, as some affected employees were previously transferred to the commercial arm.

Law said offering all bank employees the scheme would mean more vacancies would open up in HSBC, and that better allowed the affected staff from the commercial arm to fill the gaps.

HSBC announced last October it would close down its commercial banking business in Sarawak, but leave its retail operations intact.

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