The Malta Independent 22 November 2019, Friday

HSBC Malta prohibiting IBU President, officials from representing members, union says

Albert Galea Monday, 14 October 2019, 16:23 Last update: about 2 months ago

HSBC Malta is insisting on prohibiting the President of the Independent Banking Union (IBU) and officials of the same union who are not employed by the bank to represent members during internal grievance or disciplinary procedures, the IBU itself has said in a circular to the bank’s employees.

The circular, seen by this newsroom, states that HSBC are attempting to justify this on the basis of a contractual agreement which was “conveniently agreed” between the bank and the Malta Union of Bank Employees (MUBE) which purports to exclude any other trade union officials who are not employees of HSBC from representing employees of the same bank for internal matters.

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“Such an action by the Bank constitutes a blatant breach of a number of International Conventions and Malta’s very own Constitution”, the circular reads.

The IBU alleges that HSBC, on more than one occasion, “intervened and meddled with Trade Union affairs to favour the MUBE over other trade unions”, continuing by noting that the bank had gone as far as interfering with trade union officials to ensure that the trade union official “of their choice and convenience” remains in control of the MUBE.

They noted that recourse to the judicial system was ineffective in this regard, leading to a situation wherein “a Trade Union leader remained at the helm of the trade union by securing a favourable vote in a voting process which sought the leader’s impeachment in a manner which breached the union’s own statute.”

“The same leader enjoyed the bank’s support all along the way, so much so that the Bank took an illegal decision to prohibit competing Trade Union representatives to carry out their Trade Union activities within the Bank”, the IBU’s circular reads.

“This hardcore approach adopted by HSBC also included a failed attempt to incriminate a trade unionist who spoke out with HSBC employees against the CEO of the Bank and against the passive stance being adopted by the MUBE when faced with the unfavourable and discriminative treatment of its members who are also the Bank’s employees”, it continues.

The IBU lamented that it is still waiting for a decision by the industrial tribunal, which has been postponed indefinitely.

“This is a situation which is allowing MUBE to ride shotgun alongside HSBC while the latter is trampling over the rights of HSBC employees unhindered, if not even supported by the recognized Trade Union at the workplace which is duty bound to ensure that such trampling of rights does not happen!”, the union wrote.

It also alleged that HSBC has objected to the recognition of the IBU in relation to a particular section of the workforce which is regulated under a separate collective agreement, which it said is clearly intended to “retain the status quo and ensure that it continues to deal with a subdued Union who seems more happy to support the bank than to support its own members.”

“Unfortunately, whilst HSBC employees await the decision of the Industrial Tribunal, the MUBE remains the recognized Trade Union within HSBC, but the IBU warns both the Bank and the MUBE that should they once again agree on anything which is not favourable for HSBC employees and for its own members, it will take the necessary action to prevent this, including considering a full scale Industrial Action in addition to any judicial remedies it may deem necessary”, the IBU warned before also requesting its members and all HSBC bank employees to remain vigilant for further instructions issued by the union.

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