Caribbean Bank workers organized but exceptions exist In T&T and Bahamas!
UNI Finance officers Marcio Monzane and Andre Rodrigues visited UNI Caribbean Finance Unions in Trinidad Suriname Bahamas and Jamaica from September 14-20 2014.While they found that most major Caribbean Banks are already organized by UNI Unions, there are still a few glaring exceptions !
In Trinidad and Tobago, the workers of RBC Royal Bank have been waiting 3 years to get their Union-BIGWU, recognized to represent them. This is due to a restrictive and tedious process established by the local Labour legislation (IRA 1972) and imposed through the RRCB -Registration Recognition and Certification Board which can see workers waiting for representation for up to 10 years. Local affiliate, BIGWU already represents the majority of local Banks-Republic Bank, First Citizens Bank, CIBC First Caribbean Bank and the Central Bank of T&T, in addition to 25 Credit Unions and local Insurance Companies including CLICO, BAICO and PALIG. BIGWU also represents the Media Sector.
UNI Global Union issued a Statement calling for immediate action by the Minister of Labour-Errol Mc Leod, to review the existing recognition process and to replace it with a procedure in keeping with the accepted practices of other Caribbean jurisdictions which will result in Recognition being granted with 3 months of application and demonstrate respect for the rights of workers as mandated by ILO Conventions 87 and 98 already ratified by Trinidad and Tobago.
UNI officers also visited Rebublic Bank and CIBC First Caribbean offices in Trinidad in promotion of Labour Framework Agreements being established between UNI Global Union, our Finance Unions and these Banks. Framework Agreements with multinationals secures respect for Trade Union rights in all jurisdictions of a company and is monitored by UNI. These agreements are also tangible demonstrations good corporate social responsibility which improve industrial relations and reduce industrial conflict.
UNI also learnt that Scotia bank, already organized by UNI Unions -BWU Barbados, GTAWU Grenada ABWU Antigua BITU Jamaica, CTAWU St Vincent and NWU St Lucia, is not yet organized in Trinidad and Tobago and Bahamas. UNI also released a Statement on behalf of regional Scotia Unions on the anti- Union practices of Scotia Bank in the Americas.
In Suriname, UNI met the local Federation -Progressive Vakcentrale C47 with membership of the Finance Unions in RBC, Surinamse Bank, People’s Credit Bank, Agriculture Bank and Asuria Insurance Company. UNI is very concerned to learn that the State intends to privatise all the Public Banks of Suriname despite the negative effects this will on the workers and the local economy.
UNI also met with BFSU-Bahamas Financial Services Union, the Union for CIBC First Caribbean workers. Bahamas is the other glaring exception where all major banks are not yet organized into unions. Local affiliate BFSU advised of their intent to organize Bahamian Banks into the Union. UNI supports the BFSU and Bank workers of Bahamas in their fight for the right to join and be represented by a Trade Union of their choice. It is noted by UNI Finance that Banks in Guyana are also not yet organized.
BITU Bustamante Industrial Trade Union Jamaica also met with UNI in Kingston. This Union represents all local Banks and major Credit Unions and also the agricultural and industrial sector workers both public and private. Union President Sen. Kavan Gayle voiced his concerns related to the proliferation of Contract Labour in the sector and the effect of reducing benefits and worsening working conditions. Gayle also cited the constant pressure placed on finance workers by the imposition of unachievable sales targets and links to performance evaluations and merit pay as major challenges facing finance workers in the region.