PETALING JAYA: The National Union of Bank Employees (NUBE) wants the banking industry to recognise the sacrifices and efforts of their staff in being frontliners since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Citing the government’s recognition of all its frontliners, NUBE urged banks to provide a similar one-off payment to its staff, many of whom it said are from the B40 and M40 groups.
“At the height of the nationwide MCO, scores of bank workers turned up to keep banks open as they were considered essential services.
“NUBE feels strongly that banks should not dismiss or trivialise the role of their employees in keeping branches open while much of the country was in one form of lockdown or another,” its general secretary, J Solomon, said in a statement today.
He said banks could afford to make the one-off payment to their staff.
“NUBE feels banks can easily afford this as they recorded more than healthy profits so far this year, even while the six-month moratorium on loan repayments for individuals and businesses was in force.
“Maybank made RM942 million in profit for the second quarter of 2020 (April-June), CIMB’s profit was RM277 million in the same period, RHB made RM400 million and Public Bank’s profit was RM1 billion,” he said.
Solomon also called for Putrajaya to show their appreciation to frontliners in the private sector.
“What is not right is for the government and the private sector, especially banks, not to show any sense of appreciation to other frontliners, such as bank workers, delivery people and many unsung heroes from other sectors of the economy which kept the country ticking.
“The government will insist it does not get involved in matters that are solely in the domain of the private sector. However, it was the government that ordered banks to remain open even if the move risked the health of bank employees,” he said.
In the recent 2021 budget announcement, health ministry frontliners were promised a one-off payment of RM300.
Last Thursday, Finance Minister Tengku Zafrul Aziz extended the one-off payment to other frontliners such as police, the army, Rela and those coming under the National Disaster Management Agency (Nadma).
Solomon said that despite all the SOPs in place, several bank employees tested positive.
“For many months, these staff underwent rigorous SOPs before, during and after work to ensure the safety of the customers and themselves.
“Despite this, several bank employees were struck by the virus in carrying out their jobs. Many others were subjected to swab tests and endured the anxiety of waiting for the results,” he said.
He said the risk of infections from walk-in customers remained a threat to the frontliners in banking sectors.
He said some form of monetary recognition for frontliners in the private sector would go a long way to show they were cared and provided for by both their employers and the government.