Industrial unrest continues to brew among local Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) employees, who remain the only non-unionized group of RCB workers in the region.
During a press conference Monday, President of the Bahamas Financial Services Union Theresa Mortimer said RBC executives have refused to agree, she believes, because of the revamping of the bank in recent years.
“When the punishment comes down, it comes to those first, who are un-unionized,” Mortimer said.
“We want to ensure that trade union rights for RBC workers are protected and respected and ensure their right to freedom of association, union recognition and a workplace free from fear and victimization.”
Mortimer noted that RBC has pulled out of the Family Islands and has decreased its presence in the capital, which she said, is a telltale sign of what is to come.
“Throughout the region, Royal Bank had about 5,000 employees, and at a recent meeting we found out that that number has decreased to about 2,000,” she said.
“I think it’s just a matter of time for them to get their ducks together to do what they want to do here.”
The union has partnered with the RBC Trade Union Alliance of UNI Americas for support. They recently met in Port of Spain, Trinidad & Tobago to discuss the common strategies to combat violations of the rights of bank workers. Regional secretary Marcio Monzane said, the lack of protection for Bahamian workers is unacceptable.
“It’s a matter of behavior,” Monzane said.
“The company needs to respect workers…when they don’t respect unions, they don’t respect the global standards for workers to receive fair remuneration and decent terms and conditions of employment, consistent with International Labour Organization (ILO) conventions.”
He called on RBC executives to be transparent in their dealing.
Meanwhile, BFSU Secretary General Lashawn Sawyer said, attempts have been made for the past five years to unionize workers, however, they claimed they were unionized.
“Right now because we are not unionized, anything could happen here.” Sawyer said.
“The other territories not with any intention are saying ‘go to the non-unionized territories’. The other territories are saying ‘reduce your work force, reduce the numbers, decrease your cost and go from there’ … We have been trying to encourage the workers, but they are very afraid …”
At a recent event, RBC’s Executive Vice President and Head of Personal and Commercial Banking for North America and the Caribbean Kirk Dudtschak said, change within in the organization may be “ hard” and “uncomfortable” but necessary due to technological advances.