JTUM condemns Scotiabank’s move to retrench 149 workers

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In this file photo, customers wait to use the ATM at the Scotiabank branch on the corner of Park and Pembroke Streets, Port of Spain. –

The Joint Trade Union Movement (JTUM) has condemned Scotiabank’s decision to retrench 149 workers over March-May, labelling it as an inhumane action.

The trade union federation charged that the move came after the declared hundreds of millions in profit already for the current financial year and claimed to have received some spurious awards for “Bank of the Year.”

A release on Saturday from JTUM said the timing could not have been worse for these workers who have served on the frontline during the covid19 pandemic.

It said workers have put their lives and their families at risk to ensure that the bank continued to deliver its services to customers.

“JTUM underscores the point that the bank cannot claim to have suffered any diminution in its profitability and must justify to the Ministry of Labour why this sudden need to restructure under the guise of digitalisation,” the statement said.

On Thursday, via email, Scotiabank said 149 workers will be affected, adding the move was necessary due to its digital transformation. The bank said the decision was not taken lightly and vowed to ensure all employees are treated fairly and with respect as they transition employment.

The San Fernando branch at Cipero and Rushworth Streets will close on March 18, and the operations will be integrated into the High Street location.

The Park and Pembroke Streets branch will close on April 14. The operations will be integrated at the Independence Square branch in Port of Spain. As of March 25, the Cunupia sales centre will be merged into the Cunupia branch.

JTUM said it notes with serious concern Scotiabank’s planned action to outsource jobs and some of its back-room services to the Dominican Republic. That country, JTUM said, is known for using “cheap labour” and exploiting workers.

It said, “By sending home these workers, some of whom are single parents and the sole breadwinners, their families will now be adversely affected. This is aggravated by the deluge of increased food and other commodity prices which this country is facing.”

JTUM questioned the corporate social responsibility of this Canadian multi-national bank.

It called for Scotiabank to immediately rescind its decision and to meet with the workers and their representatives to explore alternative solutions to this “ill-advised action.”

The federation also called for Labour Minister Stephen Mc Clashie to “act now and use the full powers afforded to him under the legislative provisions to avert this impending crisis.”

JTUM also expressed solidarity with its affiliate, the Banking, Insurance & General Workers Union (BIGWU) which it said represents one bargaining unit of Scotiabank workers.

On Friday, BIGWU’s general secretary Trevor Johnson referred to the retrenchment as unjust and as a continued action of seeking profits.

“BIGWU also notes with serious concern that many of the jobs and services done by the workers will now be outsourced to the Dominican Republic and this is tantamount to job trafficking,” a statement from Johnson said on behalf of the union.

He also called on Mc Clashie to intervene.

Johnson said, “The actions of this bank in closing several of its branches will also cause hardship and inconvenience to its customers.”

Many customers, he said, are senior citizens and pensioners who are still grappling with the concept of this “digital transformation” being forced upon them when what they desire is simply personal and humane service in their senior years.

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