April 14, 2015
RBTT to send home eight

For eight employees of the local branch of RBTT Bank Caribbean Ltd, this is their last week on the job.

Acting General Secretary of the Commercial Technical and Allied Workers Union (CTAWU) Joseph Burns Bonadie confirmed to SEARCHLIGHT yesterday that the employees are being retrenched.{{more}}

He said all eight employees being sent home come from the bank’s service department.

Bonadie said the bank has transferred the function previously carried out by that department in all branches in Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean to a central processing facility in Trinidad. A similar move has taken place in Jamaica and the Cayman Islands, where the functions have been moved to the Bahamas, he said.

The union boss said the retrenchment of the eight employees follows the voluntary separation of 10 other employees, who went home within the last four months.

“So, those are persons who went home with packages of their own volition.”

Bonadie disclosed that this time, he had suggested that the same approach be used, but the bank declined, saying that some people they want to let go might not apply for the voluntary separation. He said the bank indicated that they wanted all eight employees going home to come from the service department.

Of the 10 employees who took voluntary separation earlier this year, seven also came from the service department, bringing the total number of employees who have gone home or are going home from this department, in the last four months, to 15.

The CTAWU general secretary referred to the launch of the Eastern Caribbean Automated Clearing House (ECACH) in St Vincent and the Grenadines on March 4 this year, which he said reduces the number of employees needed to process cheques. The ECACH is a system that facilitates electronic cheque image clearing and will eventually allow for electronic funds transfer among all commercial banks in the participating territories.

Bonadie said two new jobs have been created with the introduction of the new system and the eight employees who are being severed have been told they may apply for those new jobs.

“If they are successful in the application, the retrenchment will be rescinded,” he said, explaining that if the two new posts are filled by any of the eight persons who have been severed, those persons will continue as if they had not been severed.

Bonadie noted that many regional and international companies operating in St Vincent and the Grenadines and other Caribbean islands have centralized their human resource, processing, accounting and payroll functions in one island.

He also disclosed that RBTT’s local human resources manager Noel Dickson also went home effective March 31, following other human resource staff members who were severed earlier.

Bonadie said the human resource management function for St Vincent and the Grenadines and Grenada is now being carried out by an employee in Grenada.

RBTT recently closed their branch in Bequia and with the current round of layoffs, there have been speculations that the bank is on the verge of closing its operations here entirely.

“They say that that is not their intention at all,” Bonadie said, when invited to comment.

“That is what they told us.”

The veteran trade unionist, however, confirmed that all the severed employees will receive packages under the CTAWU’s severance payment agreement with RBTT, which he said exceeds that stipulated by law.

“Yes, yes, everybody is getting a package.”

Bonadie said the CTAWU raised the question with the bank whether employment levels at the bank in Trinidad will increase with the movement of the different islands’ service departments there.

“They say no; that’s what they said. Maybe they will close down some branches and shift the people to the head office in Trinidad.”