The National Union of Bank Employees (NUBE) believes that the banking industry should recognise the sacrifices and efforts of their staff who have been on the front line since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic.
NUBE general secretary J Solomon cited the government’s recognition of its frontliners in healthcare and the civil service, where one-off payments were given to show appreciation for their ongoing efforts. According to Solomon, the banks should emulate this initiative and offer a similar one-off payment to its staff, many of whom were in the B40 and M40 groups.
“At the height of the nationwide MCO, scores of bank workers turned up to keep banks open as they were considered essential services,” said Solomon. “NUBE feels strongly that banks should not dismiss or trivialise the role of their employees in keeping branches open while much of the country was in one form of lockdown or another.”
Solomon opined that the banks could easily afford to make the one-off payment to their staff as they recorded more than healthy profits so far this year, even while the moratorium on loan repayments was in force. “Maybank made RM942 million in profit for the second quarter of 2020 (April-June), CIMB’s profit was RM277 million in the same period, RHB made RM400 million and Public Bank’s profit was RM1 billion,” he said.
In the latest round of government payments for frontliners, Ministry of Health workers were promised RM500 while other frontliners such as the police, army, and RELA were extended RM300. “This is the right thing to do, but what is not right is for the government and the private sector, especially banks, not to show any sense of appreciation to other frontliners, such as bank workers, delivery people, and many unsung heroes from other sectors of the economy which kept the country ticking,” he continued.
Solomon pointed out that it was the government who ordered banks to remain open even if the move risked the health of bank employees. “These employees carried out their work diligently in helping to provide an essential service to the rakyat. They underwent rigorous standard operating procedures before, during, and after work to ensure the safety of the customers and themselves,” he said.
This came at the expense of several bank employees becoming infected with Covid-19 during the course of their duties, while many others were subjected to swab tests and had to endure the anxiety of waiting for the results. Until now, the risk of infections from walk-in customers remain a threat to the frontliners in banking sectors.
“NUBE urges the government and banks to display some gratitude for bank employees who have pulled their weight without questions in playing their role during the pandemic,” concluded Solomon. “Some form of monetary recognition will go a long way to show they are cared and provided for by both their employers and the government.”