HSBC Malaysia Forcing Staff to Leave via VSS, Union Claims

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The National Union of Bank Employees (NUBE) has claimed that HSBC Malaysia is forcing its employees to leave the bank through the Voluntary Separation Scheme (VSS) despite the scheme’s voluntary nature.

The Malay Mail Online reported that NUBE general secretary J Solomon claimed

that HSBC employees affected by the VSS scheme come from the “senior lowest-income group” and that they are replaced by newly recruited staff.

“Though HSBC claims it is voluntary, on the contrary, those who refuse to opt for the VSS are being threatened and intimidated by forcing them to accept the VSS or be subjected to vindictive transfers,” Solomon said.

He claimed that an NUBE representative in the bank, T Sethupaty, was given the VSS letter on Feb 13 but declined to take the offer.

Sethupaty was then allegedly issued with a transfer letter to a bank branch 60km away from his current workplace, and was instructed to hand over his work and turn up this month at his new workplace despite not having agreed to the transfer, Solomon said.

The bank is also purportedly outsourcing Sethupaty’s job functions to a company which operates from the bank’s premises, he added.

“Despite the worker’s appeal against the arbitrary transfer on critical health condition among others, the bank is adamant to implement the transfer.

“We hope the victimisation does not affect his health, he needs the employment and will not leave the company. He is also not willing to succumb to the victimisation done through the transfer. Anyway, why should he leave?” Solomon asked.

Solomon said over 230 employees from HSBC have been laid off through two VSS exercises – one early last year and one in February 2017.

Those who left via VSS range were from around 30 to 45 years old and were “long-serving non-executive workers comprising drivers, messengers, clerks and special grade clerks”, he said.

Solomon is of the opinion that VSS should not be practised.

“It’s the bullying of long-serving workers with the intention of getting rid of them.

“Due to poor regulation and condonation on the part of BNM and Ministry of Human Resources, some banks are abusing the use of VSS,” he said.

“The VSS which was supposed to be voluntary has now become a form of forced laying off senior workers causing unemployment of these seniors. Eventually, this will result in eroding livelihood of these workers who do not have adequate social protection,” he said, adding that most employees take the VSS for fear of uncertainty.

Solomon called on the authorities to intervene, saying that the Human Resources Ministry should take stern action on banks that allegedly “create unjustified unemployment in order to prevent job losses” and victimise workers.