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Jamaica Trade Union Says Scotiabank Dispute Could Go Regional

Jamaica Observer:–  Bustamante Industrial Trade Union (BITU) President Senator Kavan Gayle says that the dispute with Scotiabank Jamaica over the transitioning of more jobs to other Caribbean countries could grow into a regional confrontation with the bank by next week.

Senator Gayle said yesterday that several other trade unions within the region are concerned about the possible effect on their members as well, and are expected to express their support for his union.

“We are getting support from unions in The Bahamas, Antigua, Grenada, and even Latin America, as well as the international body for unions representing bank workers, Global Union. They want to discuss the matter with us because they, too, feel threatened by this trend,” Gayle added.

His comments followed the failure of the bank and the union to make any progress in local-level talks held on Wednesday in an effort to settle the dispute which has been a triggered primarily by the bank’s decision to continue transitioning local units to locations outside of Jamaica.

The strategy dates back to 2013 when Scotiabank formed Operations and Shared Services Company Ltd (OSSCL) in Chaguanas, Trinidad and Tobago. The bank moved its back-office operations, inclusive of account processing, reconciliations, customer support, and collection services to Port of Spain to cover customers in Trinidad and Tobago and 17 other countries in the Caribbean from that location.

OSSCL was officially launched in Trinidad in April, and since then the bank has announced plans to transfer other services provided locally, including the Lending Services Unit and the Processing Services and Business Services centres, to the Dominican Republic.

Scotia’s management has said that these moves are part of its international strategy, focusing on investing resources in potential markets where the bank anticipates solid, long-term economic growth.

Gayle said yesterday that several jobs were lost due to the Trinidad operation, and the union and the workers felt that the parent bank, Bank of Nova Scotia, was not showing enough interest in the positive changes taking place in the Jamaican economy nor the bank’s local successes. He said that there are also plans to close the King Street branch.

Last year, Scotiabank Group recorded net income of $12.4 billion, an increase of $817 million, or seven per cent over 2016. Its loan portfolio grew by $3.6 billion or 3.5 per cent, and its Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises portfolio by four per cent.

Wednesday’s meeting ended without any agreement for further discussions.

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