NUBE takes Maybank dispute to streets
KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 15 — The National Union of Bank Employees (NUBE) staged a picket against Malayan Banking Berhad (Maybank) outside its office in Bangsar here today in a public display of their unhappiness with a long-standing dispute over stagnant wages.
The 700-strong group, consisting of members from NUBE and various trade unions, walked from NUBE’s headquarters in Brickfields to Dataran Maybank after lodging a report with the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) here.
Trade union leaders today slammed the country’s biggest bank and financial services company for allegedly violating labour and civil laws as well as collective agreements and international treaties in launching last year an in-house union called the Maybank Non-Executive Union (Mayneu).
According to the bank unionists, Maybank’s move breaches the Federal Constitution and the Trades Union Act 1959. Maybank’s decision to set up Maybeu was also against the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, they added.
According to NUBE general secretary J. Solomon, Mayneu was a “union-busting campaign” because it spoilt NUBE’s negotiations for a performance bonus.
“We received Maybank’s annual report and we discovered that the CEO of Maybank received 24 months’ salary as performance bonus. His salary per month is RM90,000,” Solomon told reporters at the start of their street demonstration.
“NUBE members, who are in the lowest income group at Maybank, were not paid a single sen as performance bonus,” he said.
Solomon claimed that Maybank had instructed the Malaysian Commercial Banks Association (MCBA) to direct its members to slash the salaries of all NUBE executive and branch committee members who had applied for trade union leave to prepare for their picket.
Malaysian Trades Union Congress (MTUC) president Khalid Attan, who was also present, claimed that Maybank had been “sponsoring and supporting” Mayneu, and explained that such sponsorship violates union laws.
“No employer is allowed to support or sponsor any union. Maybank is clearly violating such laws,” he said.
“I don’t know why the Ministry of Human Resources is keeping silent on this. The dispute can be solved. The minister can decide to cancel the registration of an in-house union,” Khalid said.
Solomon said a recent audience with Human Resource Minister Datuk S. Subramaniam on January 30 had been futile as the minister had given them the brush-off, saying “I will think about it”.
But then NUBE vice-president Abdul Jamil Jalaludeen and treasurer-general Chen Ka Fatt were dismissed as employees of Maybank the following day, for “participating in trade union activities”.
Solomon questioned the timing, saying the incident was too much of a coincidence and that it had cast doubt on the ministry’s conduct.
He further questioned the minister’s sincerity in helping the union solve its problems with the banking giant’s management, suggesting that some palms may have been greased.
“Therefore we are compelled to lodge a report at the MACC,” Solomon said.
The bank unionists have also filed police reports and complaints with the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia over the dispute.
The leaders once again pressed Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak to step in and help settle the long-standing dispute.
“We call upon the PM to get involved. Do not regard this as a small problem,” said Mohamed Shafie Mammal, president of the Government-linked Companies Trade Union Congress.
He added, “Before this gets out of hand, gets serious and out of control, we urge the PM to meet with NUBE leaders and listen to our plight as this may be a syndrome that could spread to other agencies.”
NUBE had asked for the prime minister’s help nearly half a year ago, seemingly without result.
Maybank’s senior management refuted NUBE’s claims in a media statement released this evening.
Its group head of human capital, Nora Abdul Manaf, said, “Maybank understands that the picket by NUBE was an objection in relation to the dismissal of two of its union officials who were previously employed by the Bank.
“Maybank would like to firmly state that the two employees were dismissed for actions which caused disrepute to the image and reputation of the Bank. The dismissals were not due to trade union activities, as alleged by NUBE,” she added.
She added that the bank fully supports its workers and their rights but will not compromise on any disciplinary issues or allow any form of improper action to affect the bank’s interests.
Maybank reminded its employees that they could picket against the firm, but cannot involve any non-employee, as such action would breach the provisions of the Industrial Relations Act 1967.