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HSBC Malaysia allegedly forcing lower-income workers to leave

According to Malay Mail Online, the National Union of Bank Employees (NUBE) has claimed that HSBC Malaysia is allegedly forcing its staff in Malaysia to leave the bank through the Voluntary Separation Scheme (VSS) despite the scheme’s voluntary nature.

NUBE general secretary J. Solomon claimed that “HSBC workers in the lowest income group” were most affected by the VSS, as they were also simultaneously replaced by new hires. He said: "Though HSBC claims it is voluntary, on the contrary those who refuse to opt for the VSS are being threatened and intimidated by forcing them to accept the VSS or be subjected to vindictive transfers.”

He claimed that an active NUBE representative in the bank, T. Sethupaty, was given the VSS letter on 13 February but had refused to accept the offer. According to the release, Sethupaty was then allegedly issued with a transfer letter to a bank branch 60km away from his current workplace, and was then directed to hand over his work and turn up this month at his new workplace despite not having consented to the transfer.

Solomon continued, sharing that the bank is also purportedly outsourcing Sethupaty's job functions to a company which operates from the bank's premises. He said: "Despite the worker’s appeal against the arbitrary transfer on critical health condition among others, the bank is adamant to implement the transfer.”

"We hope the victimisation does not affect his health, he needs the employment and will not leave the company. He is also not willing to succumb to the victimisation done through the transfer. Anyway why should he leave?” Solomon asked.

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According to the report, HSBC had allegedly breached five terms of the collective agreement (CA) between NUBE and the Malayan Commercial Banks Association (MCBA) - namely Articles 4(2), 6, 14(4), 15(3), and 16(4). HSBC is a member of the MCBA.

Amongst other things, he claimed that the bank has refused to engage with NUBE despite the requirement for it to be recognised as the sole negotiating body for employees who are also union workers, adding that it had also breached the mandatory requirement for consultations before outsourcing NUBE members' job functions.

He claimed that the CA was also breached when the bank did not consult Sethupaty to seek consent for the transfer and the latter only found out through a letter, adding that the bank allegedly failed to notify NUBE members about available vacancies in the bank as required.

Human Resources has contacted HSBC for a response but was unsuccessful.

According to the Human Resources Ministry's written parliamentary replies from the October-November 2016 meeting, employees can either have their services terminated through contract termination by employers or go through the VSS method where their offer to leave will be accepted along with typically higher compensation granted.

According to the ministry's Labour Market Database, 51.67% (19,891 of the 38,499) retrenched in 2015 took the VSS route, while 45.8% (14,425 of the 31,476) retrenched in the January-September 2016 period left via VSS.

The manufacturing industry recorded the highest number of retrenchments when compared to other sectors in 2013, 2014 and in the January-September 2016 period, the ministry said.

The finance and insurance sector accounted for only 462 out of 33,086 (in 2013) and 122 out of 25,917 retrenchments (in 2014), shot up to be the most-affected sector in 2015 with 17,628 out of 38,499 retrenchments (45.79%). This then fell to third place during January-September 2016 at 4,424 or 14 per cent of 31,476.

Photo / 123RF

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