The Grenada Technical and Allied Workers Union (GTAWU) has said that it is yet to meet with officials of the Bank of Nova Scotia to address matters of concerns raised by workers following the acquisition of the Canadian-owned financial institution by Republic Financial Holdings Limited (RFHL).
A release from the Government of Grenada last Thursday indicated that assurances of job security for the over 35 workers currently employed at Scotia Bank, were given to Prime Minister Dr Keith Mitchell by Republic Bank Limited and Scotia Bank at a meeting held recently between the parties.
The release said that all Scotia Bank staff will transition to Republic Bank and their terms of employment will remain the same and in Grenada where both banks have existing operations “current staffing arrangements will remain in place for at least 12 months.”
It also addressed the possibility of attrition taking place over time.
The release said: “A technical services agreement between the banks will ensure collaboration for a period of 18 to 30 months to ensure the transition is smooth and seamless”.
President General of TAWU, Andre Lewis told THE NEW TODAY on Monday that assurances were apparently given to Prime Minister Mitchell by the bank on job security but none was given to the union as TAWU is yet to meet with Scotia Bank to discuss the way forward and finalise on outstanding matters.
He said: “The Prime Minister and the bank officials met and they have had assurances from both banks that the staff would not be negatively impacted at least in the first 12 months but they also noted (that) the bank through the process of attrition, staffing would be adjusted but we must not miss the mark. In Grenada where both banks have existing operations, current staffing arrangements would remain in place for at least 12 months. In other words, it says for at least 12 months – it means that after 12 months, the gate is open”.
According to Lewis, the message is clear that attrition is expected to take place overtime as the operations of the two banks merge.
He spoke of the bank sending “a subtle message of a reduction in staff” through attrition, while some of the workers will exit on their own or through retirement but it is clear that the jobs of staff members “are secured beyond the 12 months”.
However, Lewis stated that one of the major concerns of TAWU is the fact that “the bank is yet to meet officially with the union”.
“…We have had cause to write to the bank only on January 15th, pointing out to them that following their communication of November 27th, whereby they advised the union on the change in ownership of the bank and up to now, we have not yet had the opportunity to meet with them, despite the fact that they have been promises to do so.
“We also met with workers on the 3rd of December, 2018. We got the letter on the 27th of November, we immediately met with the workers to note some of the concerns that they have and we have been waiting to meet with the bank and we have not yet been able to meet with the bank,” he remarked.
Lewis is calling for all outstanding matters to be addressed before the acquisition process is finalised, as the workers will be under another union, once transferred to Republic Bank.
“As the bargaining agent of the workers, the bank is obligated, the bank is duty bound to meet with us and that is why we wrote them on January 15th, pointing out, expressing our frustration and disappointment in this approach; taking into account significantly, is the fact also that we submitted proposal to the company since July 10th, 2018 to start collective bargaining and as we speak at this moment, the bank is yet to meet with us to address our proposal. This is a case where workers are not sure what will happen to them but yet still, the bank has not found the necessary time to meet to address the outstanding negotiations,” he said.
According to the TAWU boss, the union is now questioning whether Scotia Bank is moving to finalise agreement with Republic Bank before dealing with outstanding matters with the workers’ representative.
Lewis maintained that the matter of salary increases for the workers must be dealt with before the acquisition is finalised.
He said: “In some quarters, some people are wondering, whether or not the bank wants to go through the process without having to make the necessary adjustments that it will have to make to the workers’ salary. I’m absolutely certain the workers’ salary will have to be increased.
“We have made other proposals but I am dealing specifically on the aspects of salaries. Not only this, as we speak, while the bank can find the time that is necessary to meet with the Prime Minister and that is okay but the workers’ allowances, there is a particular allowance that ought to be addressed from the beginning of this year and the bank has not yet done so.
“…For us, it is not just a matter of holding a discussion with the Prime Minister, for us it is not just a question of giving some interim assurances, they have not given that to us but they have given the Prime Minister, that is understandable – we need to be able to address some of the pressing matters that are confronting the workers.
The news of Republic Financial Holdings Limited acquiring the Bank of Nova Scotia became known in November 2018.
Grenada is one of nine Caribbean countries where Scotia Bank has an active bank.