Monday, June 17

HSBC employees hold peaceful protest

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FIGHTING FOR FAIR PLAY: SBEU members lend support to the affected HBSC staff at the peaceful protest in front of the bank in Kuching.

KUCHING: Sixty HSBC staff will be out of a job soon following the bank’s decision to close its corporate banking in Kuching, Sibu and Miri.

Unhappy with the decision, the affected staff and some Sarawak Bank Employees Union (SBEU) members held a peaceful protest in front of the bank here yesterday.

Among those present were SBEU’s president Hadiah Leen, chief executive officer Andrew Lo, secretary-general Law Kiat Min and MTUC Sarawak chairman Mohd Ibrahim Hamid.

Law, when met at the protest, said those affected had been offered a Voluntary Separation Scheme, but one of the problems with this offer is that those who decline it would be transferred to other branches outside the state.

“Those who do not wish to be transferred will eventually have to opt for the VSS, and that is as good as retrenching them, so what option do they have?”

He said a better option would be for the bank to offer the VSS to staff in other departments as well. That way, in the event that staff from other departments took up the offer, they could be replaced by those from corporate banking.

The other problems with the VSS package, he lamented, was that it was not attractive. It is only 1.4 times the monthly salary, irrespective of the number of years they had worked with HSBC.

“Other banks had offered higher amounts,” said Law, who is also a HSBC employee.

“The management should open the VSS package to everyone or offer a package similar to what was offered 10 years ago … that is 1.8 to 2.25 times (of monthly salary) depending on the years of service.”

Law said according to HSBC, the decision to close its corporate banking was purely a business decision.

“If that is true then show the employees evidence. There must be financial statements to prove that corporate banking in Sarawak is not making money.”

He added that HSBC staff had until tomorrow to make their decision, and that management’s decision was final.

The first batch of the affected workers will leave by the end of April 2014 and the second and final batch by end of September 2014.

Meanwhile, Lo said he was appalled by HSBC’s move as the state government had big businesses for the commercial bank to invest.

He described the bank’s decision as an insult to the state government’s efforts to promote Sarawak Corridor of Renewable Energy (SCORE) and to transform the state into a high income state.

In addition, he said, Malaysia is the sixth easiest place in the world to do business.

According to a SBEU News flash, HSBC will close down every non-individual account, deposit, loans and other credit facilities and trade financing of companies, including government-linked companies within 45days.