Barclays workers continue their protest action for 3 working days in a row
Over 30 employees of Barclays Bank spent the day Friday September 13th at the Legislative Council Chambers, as they took their protest action against the bank’s refusal to grant them severance pay to the streets.
Since then, the dispute has heightened, with an emergency meeting taking place Friday evening between government, the bank, staff representatives and their respective lawyers, in an attempt to resolve the conflict. That meeting reportedly netted no conclusive results, as some bank staff stayed off the job again on Monday and Tuesday.
On each day, they were however greeted with this sign on the door: “Barclays Bank has put a proposal to its staff for resolution of the current dispute and is currently awaiting their formal response. To allow staff adequate and proper time to consider their response, the bank will remain closed for business at this moment and staff need not attend for work. Barclays would like to apologize for any inconvenience caused to its loyal customers in taking this necessary but unfortunate action”.
The issue stemmed from workers refusal to accept the position of Barclays Bank not to grant them severance pay when the bank merges with CIBC later this year to form FirstCaribbean. It escalated when Barclays suspended Senior Operations Manager Mrs. Ingrid Moses-Scatliffe on Thursday September 12th “until further notice in order to allow a full investigation of allegations into your conduct in the course of your employment that would amount to gross misconduct”.
According to a press release from Barclays staff, Mrs. Moses-Scatliffe has not accepted the “unlawful act of suspension”.
They have insisted that the bank withdraw the suspension letter, but the bank has so far refused. Staff were all offered continuity of employment with the new bank - FirstCaribbean, the basis for Barclays’ refusal to grant severance pay.
Barclays management maintains that because FirstCaribbean is providing continuity of employment on the same terms and conditions that the employees currently enjoy without a break in service, Barclays is not required to pay severance pay at the time of the completion. In addition all employees who continue their employment into FirstCaribbean will receive a gift of shares in FirstCaribbean of between $1500 and $3500.
Questioned about the impasse during his press conference on Monday, BVI Chief Minister the Honourable Ralph T. O’Neal explained that government is doing all it can to assist in its resolution.
The original date for the merger between Barclays and CIBC was the end of August. This date was later modified to September 27th, 2002.
In the meantime, a court case filed by the workers against the bank was expected to be heard this Friday September 20th.
FirstCaribbean is expected to be the largest publicly traded bank in the region with total assets of about US$9.5 billion and capital adequacy levels that surpass both regional and international best practice standards. It is expected to have over 700,000 active accounts, more than 3,000 employees, over 80 branches and more than 120 ATMs in 15 countries.
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