Govt Told to Stop Backing Banks’ Dismissal of Staff Under Restructure Guise

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The National Union of Bank Employees says government agencies are allowing banks to exploit and lay off workers in the name of increasing the use of technology in the workplace.

  • Bank Negara “encouraged, promoted and supported” banks which laid off workers under the guise of employing more technology
  • Bank branches scaled down, fees imposed for bank tellers’ services
  • Customers not given option to choose preferred mode of banking
  • Bank staff compel customers to sign up for Internet banking
  • Jobs threatened by aggressive automation in banking transactions
  • Customers pay repetitive fees for core banking services
  • Yesterday’s free banking services, today’s “extreme fee-based banking services”

The National Union of Bank Employees (NUBE) today claimed that banks are employing “underhand tactics” in laying off employees and charging customer fees.

Saying these tactics were being employed with the approval of government agencies, NUBE general secretary J Solomon urged the government to protect their livelihood.

He said in a statement today that bank workers wanted a guarantee that their livelihood would be secured, especially as more and more technology is adopted by the banking sector.

He said in the last 10 years, the human resources ministry, the finance ministry and Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) had “encouraged, promoted and supported” banks which laid off workers, particularly from the B40 and M40 “under the disguise of restructuring/reorganising consequent to Industrial Revolution 4.0”.

The Industrial Revolution 4.0 refers to the employment of robots and artificial intelligence in the workplace.

Solomon accused the banks of using sophisticated strategies to exploit workers and reduce their incomes. He said bank branches were being scaled down and fees were being imposed on customers seeking bank tellers’ services.

“Customers are not given the option to choose the preferred mode of banking; instead, targets are set on employees to compel customers to sign up for Internet banking, including migrant workers, and banking transactions are aggressively automated.”

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All this, he said, was being done under the disguise of technology and business development.

“Customers are not spared. Customers end up paying repetitive fees for core banking services. What used to be free banking services to the consumer is, today, extreme fee-based banking services.

“Despite repeated appeals by the union, thousands of workers were laid off with the approval of government agencies. Much to our dismay, these underhand tactics by the banks have the blessings of the relevant government agencies.”

Solomon said bank workers had made “immense contributions” to the financial sector and socio-economic development of the country.

“The misleading theory of technological reengineering and business development as the only way forward needs to be reviewed. It has been proven that technology is incapable of solving problems arising from its own mysterious network of relations between things, consequently, sometimes solving one problem only to create another.

“Accordingly, in order to prevent disruption of livelihood of Malaysians, we need to humanise technological advancement to ensure jobs are preserved, until and unless new ones can sustain our livelihood.”

Noting that the government had recently stated it would not scale down the civil service despite claims that it was bloated, Solomon called on the government to similarly protect the private sector workers and assure bank workers of fair opportunity for progress at their workplace. – FMT