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Dec 22, 2015

CIBC to Close Doors in January, No Word of Exit Package for Staffers

Audrey Matura-Shepherd

Negotiations between the Christian Workers Union and the country management of CIBC FirstCaribbean are once again at a standstill.  On Monday, CIBC issued a release stating that it is officially closing its doors on January twenty-ninth, 2016.  That announcement however, did not mention the outcome of the ongoing discussions in respect of an exit package for employees of the soon-to-be defunct bank.  This afternoon, CWU President Audrey Matura-Shepherd went on the offensive, soundly criticizing the bank for the manner in which it has chosen to handle the severance of its longtime employees.

 

Audrey Matura-Shepherd, President, Christian Workers Union

“When we were negotiating, when you go to negotiate what you try to do is…both parties may be asking for something far and apart so you keep coming closer. While at every meeting we went, the union gave in a point and gave in a point, he bank refused to move. They stayed at the same path so at some point there was an impasse; there was no way forward even with the bank insisting that they wanted mediated negotiations with the Labor Commissioner, it didn’t work. Even what was ironic during those negotiations is the fact that even when the unions showed that okay if we were asking for ten for whatever and we gone down to eight and then we go down to seven and to six….if the bank says all it is giving is two. At one point, first it was one then they said one point five and ten two and after that they didn’t move anywhere. So it is hard to negotiate like that. So there was a major impasse and at this point, all we can do is still go back to the negotiating table. What is critical whether the negotiation is concluded before they physically leave or not, it’s a matter that has to be concluded at some point so the sooner we do it the better it will be.”

 

Reporter

“Now the Central Bank in giving approval, did they approach the union, dialogue the union about these issues?”

 

Audrey Matura-Shepherd

“No unfortunately, the Central Bank seems to be of the view that they don’t need to consult any other party that will be affected. We had written the bank a letter asking them what will be their obligations to the workers in such a situation. They wrote back and said that there is none. So they are of that view; we believed otherwise and that is why we had written a letter to the bank and the prime minister. And as you all notice, other authorities didn’t care about the workers. Imagine, the government, the Minister of Finance when they passed the legislation, we are waiting for hear from them now because remember they said they would not sign in the date until they know that the negotiations were concluded and the negotiations have not concluded as yet. So we haven’t heard from that party. As you all noticed, we didn’t even know that there was a press release issued. In the press release nothing is mentioned about the employees, only the customers—and some of those employees are customers too—and nothing is mentioned about what is happening between the two private parties—the buyer, the seller—and the government in terms of the legislation that needs to now be penned in so that it could be effective. But then what happens to the promise all of you heard the Prime Minister gave in the National Assembly as to his position on this issue. It will be interesting; I say interesting because they are at a mad rush now to try and complete even though from the start we’ve been asking them please tell us when is the exit date. I mean the bad faith has been unimaginable. But I think anybody looking will see that the trend in this country when it comes to master/servant, employer/employee is that the master/employer always has the upper hand and when they cannot control the employee, they call on the state. And the state, who is in bed with the business entity, will always bring their force and their might against the workers.”

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Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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