Unionists protest Maybank’s sacking of two officials

-Susan Loone, Feb 3, 2012.
More than 50 unionists held a colourful and noisy protest along Farquhar Street today to condemn the dismissal of two National Union of Bank Employees (Nube) leaders for participating in an anti-Maybank rally in Geneva recently.

The leaders – Nube honorary treasurer Chen Ka Fatt and vice-president Abdul Jamil Jalaludeen – were dismissed on Jan 31, for holding a banner with words “Maybank robs poor Malaysian workers” outside the United Nations building in Geneva.

At the one-hour rally today, the unionists carried yellow placards describing the bank as “cheats and spends on rebranding” and “lies to the workers”, while singing pro-union songs accompanied by the clashing of pots and pans.

They also were honking their vehicles and waving to passers-by.

Police stood watch and guided the traffic, although the traffic slowed down along Jalan Farquhar, where the protest was held outside the Maybank office.

Tourists too enjoyed watching the peaceful protest, while happily clicking away their cameras.

Nube Northern Region branch secretary Chee Yeeh Ceeu said that whatever comes, the unionists were not deterred as the union was “ready to do anything and everything to ensure bank workers are protected from such abuses of the law and threats”.

“In fact, we are revitalised as our actions that follow this dismissal will create awareness amongst all workers in the country that it is the government-linked companies who are the biggest bully,” said Chee at the protest.

NONE“This clearly shows that Maybank has violated all the laws in Malaysia and the government is not doing anything about it just because the bank is a GLC.”

Chee said Nube will continue to take industrial action against the bank until both the leaders are reinstated to their original positions, and until Maybank assures its union that it will stop “all forms of violation and victimisation”.

Abdul Jamil told reporters that he was merely carrying out his duties as a Nube leader in Geneva and described his dismissal as being “unfair”.

“I have not done any wrong but to do my duty as a union leader, fighting for the rights of bank workers,” he added.

Violation of constitution and Trade Union Act

When Maybank issued showcause letters to the two leaders, Nube had lodged a complaint with the National Human Rights Commission (Suhakam) on the violation of Article 10 of the Federal Constitution and Trade Union Act.

The union said the bank’s action had also violated the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights and International Labour Convention No. 98, which is related to stopping a trade union officer from performing his trade union duty by threatening him.

“However, Suhakam had done nothing to stop the violation,” said Chee.

“What are they dismissed for? Nor for dishonesty or fraud or dishonest behaviour. This is the most disgraceful and shameful action by Maybank since its establishment. But we are not surprised,” he added.

Chee said the union had anticipated two actions: that Maybank has no decency to challenge Nube on a level playing ground and secondly, even before the dismissals, the bank’s union members had reported that the two leaders would eventually be dismissed.

abdul wahid omar“This proves that Maybank is desperate to break all laws of the country to exploit workers,” alleged Chee.

The conflict between the union and Maybank began when Nube alleged that the bank was supporting an in-house union to avoid an 80-month bonus claim.

The bank’s chief executive Abdul Wahid Omar (left) then denied the matter and told the media that the bank “respected” the right of employees to participate either in an in-house union or industry union.

He added that 61 percent of Maybank employees in the clerical/non-clerical category were Nube members but the others decided to form the Maybank Non-Executive Union (Mayneu) on Jan. 3.