JCTU joins chorus against Scotia's transitional changes

Senior staff reporter

Thursday, November 29, 2018

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The Jamaica Confederation of Trade Unions (JCTU) has joined regional unions which have coalesced around the Bustamante Industrial Trade Union's (BITU) challenge to recent changes at Scotiabank.

In a letter to president of Scotiabank Jamaica, David Noel, yesterday, JCTU president Helene Davis White said that the confederation “unreservedly condemns this callous and nefarious action and will support the BITU in any way required”.

“It is our belief that Scotiabank has improved its worth within the region for decades from the sweat and tears of these dedicated workers, and the accommodation of Jamaica on a whole. It is therefore reprehensible that the bank, which remains more than sufficiently financially viable, should act so callously in relation to our workers as well as the national policy,” the JCTU letter said.

“We would be hard-pressed to encourage our members to support any organisation which has determined to so operate and encourage the business to immediately amend its position,” it added.

The confederation said it had taken note of Scotia's third-quarter financial report, “where it boasts that total revenues, excluding impairment losses on loans for the nine months ended July 31, 2018, was $33 billion, representing an increase of $2.1 billion or seven per cent above prior year”.

“We further note the (Scotiabank Jamaica) Group net income of $11.2 billion for the nine months ended July 31, 2018, which represents an increase of $2.2 billion or 24 per cent over the corresponding period last year. The 24 per cent increase in the number of mobile banking customers, and the 26 per cent increase in 'other income', defined as all income other than interest income, has not eluded us. The Bank is doing well,” the letter pointed out.

On Tuesday, six regional trade unionists linked to the United Network International (UNI) Global Union, a services union body commonly known as UNI Global, joined BITU president Senator Kavan Gayle at a press briefing at the union's head office, Duke Street, downtown Kingston, to condemn the recent developments.

The visiting union leaders — Trevor Johnson, general secretary of the Bank, Insurance, General Workers Union (BIGWU) of Trinidad and Tobago; David Massiah, general secretary of Antigua and Barbuda Workers Union (ABWU); Theresa Mortimer, president of the Bahamas Financial Services Union (BFSU); Henry Olivera, senior organiser of Union Network International (UNI); and Marcio Monzane, general secretary of UNI Americas — condemned the bank's actions as “job trafficking”,

At Tuesday's briefing, the trade unionists accused Scotiabank of “bullying, selling and transferring the workers without clear justification, due consideration or consultation with their unions”.

Massiah told the press that just hours before the local briefing started in Kingston, he was informed by members in Antigua that they had been informed at 7:45 am, of Scotiabank's decision to sell off their operations in nine eastern Caribbean countries, including Antigua and Barbuda.

“I was advised at my hotel this morning that there had been no discussion on what was going to happen. Like a thief in the night, they pounced on our workers,” he said.

The current dispute between the BITU and Scotiabank dates back to 2013, when Scotiabank Jamaica moved its back office operations, such as account processing, reconciliations and customer support and collection services, to its new Operations and Shared Services Company Ltd (OSSCL) office in Chaguanas, Trinidad and Tobago. From there the bank covered business with customers in Trinidad and Tobago and 17 other countries in the Caribbean.

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