By MARYA SALAMAT
MANILA — Some 60 members of employees’ union in HSBC held two sessions of prayer-protests this week in two branches, one at the Bonifacio Global City in Taguig and another at the iHUB Building Northgate Alabang in Muntinlupa.
The prayer-protest is reportedly part of the union’s ongoing campaign against outsourcing of job functions in the bank. The alliance of bank unions the BFU 268 has been opposing this since 2008. Outsourcing of banking functions is perceived as a way for profitable banks to cut down on its employees’ wages and benefits by hiring contractual employees or non-unionized agency-hired employees instead of direct-hired employees.
The HSBC employees’ union reported that it is currently under “external pressure” now that it is considered a “freedom period” in HSBC, meaning another union can try to challenge
(Photos by Majal R. de Villa/ bulatlat.com)
its status as the legitimate union representing the employees. The union said it is “consolidating its ranks to advance the employees’ calls for job security and resist outsourcing.”
Kristel S. Esteban, the union’s vice-president for operations, said, “It has always been the call of the union to stop outsourcing functions in the bank. We have been calling for concerted action in order to push for the rights of employees to security of tenure.” She said the union would “not bow down to attacks on it.”
Attacks on the union
The HSBC employees’ union prayed together for their job security and union following a management action that alarmed the union. The HSBC management placed Hongkong Bank Independent Union (HBILU) president Raymund Aceña under a 30-day preventive suspension within the last month of the freedom period.
The prayer-protest conducted by the employees in two separate locations raised a security alarm in the immediate vicinity. Five police patrol cars and around 50 security forces were reportedly deployed to contain the activity of the employees’ union.
(Photo by Majal R. de Villa / bulatlat.com)
In 2009, the union submitted two cases of unfair labor practice against the HSBC management when it relocated its business office to Alabang, and outsourced 450 jobs at the same time. Since then, 90 regular employees had been compelled to resign. Until today the union’s cases are pending before the Court of Appeals.
HBILU is the registered union in HSBC. Until end of March it is the exclusive bargaining agent of 465 union members. It is currently also a member of the secretariat of the Banking and Financial Unions against BSP Circular 268 and Its Succeeding Related Circulars (BFU 268).
The HSBC Philippines, as of 2009, has 2,300 employees and “57 percent of them are part of Generation Y. They are young, idealistic, and eager to make a difference,” said HSBC Philippines CEO Mark Watkinson in 2009. Today, under CEO Anthony William Cripps, the bank has 1,600 employees, of which less than a third is under a union. Since 2009 HSBC Philippines projects an annual profit of $100 million.