THE National Union of Bank Employees (NUBE) has urged the Government to respect and implement the recommendations of the Committee on Freedom of Association (CFA) and to revisit their main role to serve the rakyat instead of being complicit with foreign employers to exploit workers.
The banking union was referring to the recent ruling by the United Nations (UN) specialised agency, the International Labour Organisation (ILO).
According to the Committee on Freedom of Association (CFA), which is part of the ILO’s supervisory mechanism, the Malaysian Government must “remain vigilant as to any future dismissals or other measures by the management of HSBC targeting NUBE’s members so as to ensure that they are not motivated by anti-union reasons”.
“Further, NUBE is allowed to conduct its activities in a climate that is free from harassment, threats or efforts to discredit the union and its members,” it added.
NUBE said that while the Malaysian Government has ratified and adopted the ILO Convention on the Right to Organise and Collective Bargaining, it had failed to provide adequate protection in law and practise for effective mechanisms to facilitate the collective bargaining process.
“As such, NUBE filed a case against the Government for the non-respect of this convention when it failed to protect NUBE and its members from the harassment, abuse and termination of workers by HSBC Bank Malaysia Bhd during the collective bargaining process which includes right to picketing and industrial action,” said the banking union in a statement.
It has been reported previously that NUBE had protested against the voluntary separation scheme (VSS) and mutual separation scheme (MSS) announced by HSBC Bank Malaysia on June 3, 2021.
The banking union previously said that this is the third time within the last six years that the bank had implemented such schemes, adding that this time it would be a “crushing blow” to the hundreds of workers who were already reeling from the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The actions of HSBC Bank Malaysia – a multinational bank – has brought disrepute and embarrassment to the Malaysian Government at international level through its actions and the manner it has dealt with its workers. It adds to the list of labour exploitation by corporations in this country,” NUBE stated.
“The CFA had noted the anti-union actions by HSBC, which had been deliberately delayed for years of negotiations and signing of the collective agreement with the union.
“It has wronged by harassing, terminating and transferring workers under the guise of economic restructuring and laying off under the guise of forcing workers to accept the VSS without any consultations with the Union who represent the workers.”
According to NUBE, the CFA had ruled that all economic restructuring falls within the ambit of collective bargaining and any such action should have been negotiated with the Union and the Government has been asked to take necessary measures and facilitate negotiations between NUBE and HSBC.
The CFA had also asked the Government to engage with the parties with a view to solving any outstanding issues concerning the allegations of anti-union termination or suspension of NUBE members and to ensure that – where appropriate – adequate remedies were provided to the affected workers, allowing for reinstatement and compensation.
“Over 300 grievances and disputes have emerged in the last three years in HSBC as a result of the inefficiency and failure of the Human Resources Ministry and the relevant government agencies to take appropriate actions despite multiple appeals made by NUBE,” the banking union pointed out.
“Since the complaints were lodged from December 2020, the HSBC has continued to disregard any negotiations in good faith, and it has refused and delayed meetings to deal with members’ problems.”
As such, NUBE called on the Government to respect and implement the CFA’s recommendations.
“We urge the Government to revisit their main role that is to serve the rakyat and not be in complicit with foreign employers to exploit workers,” it said.
“NUBE makes itself available for discussions and negotiations with the ministry and HSBC in the best interest of the workers in HSBC Bank and Malaysia.” – April 1, 2022