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No settlement in sight for proposed downsizing at Scotiabank

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

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KINGSTON, Jamaica — Scotiabank Jamaica (SBJ) and the Bustamante Industrial Trade Union (BITU) are to meet again today, in another bid to resolve a dispute over its plans to transfer more of its local operations outside of Jamaica.

The trend took root in 2013, when Scotiabank formed its Operations and Shared Services Company Ltd (OSSCL) in Chaguanas, Trinidad and Tobago, and moved its back-office operations, inclusive of account processing, reconciliations, customer support and collection services, to Port of Spain to cover customers in Trinidad and Tobago and 17 other countries in the Caribbean.

Now the furore is over Scotiabank's plans to transfer the services provided locally by its Lending Services Unit, as well as its Processing Services and Business Services centres, to the Dominican Republic.

Scotia's management has been insisting that these moves are part of an international strategy focusing on investing resources in potential markets, where the bank anticipates solid, long-term economic growth. But, the union and the workers see it as plain, old “union busting”, through moving the services to areas where employees are non-unionised.

President of the BITU, Senator Kavan Gayle, says that the strategy shows little regard for the input of the Jamaican workers to the Canadian banks' 129-year relationship with the region. Scotia is the leading bank in the Caribbean and Central America, employing over 7,000 people and serving over two million customers through nearly 300 branches and over 600 ATMs.

Senator Gayle told OBSERVER ONLINE yesterday that he has seen no sign of an amicable settlement at this time, despite the continuing negotiations, and is concerned that the talks could break down at any time, now.

“We are rejecting the idea of this shared service strategy. It is not in keeping with our national development strategy, and it is a threat to the unionised employees who could lose their jobs to non-unionised staff at what they consider centres of excellence in other countries,” he said.

In the meantime, the issue seems to be taking on a regional flavour, as it is understood that several other trade unions in the Caribbean are planning to show solidarity with the BITU's response to the developments at Scotiabank as of next week.

Balford Henry

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