Union urges state govt to intervene in bank’s Bintulu branch closure

File photo for illustration purposes

KUCHING, Dec 2: The Sarawak Bank Employees’ Union (SBEU) has called on Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg and MP Bintulu Datuk Seri Tiong King Sing to intervene in Standard Chartered Bank’s Bintulu branch closure.

Its secretary-general Law Kiat Min revealed the branch which has been operational for more than 60 years, is a profitable branch and the union does not see any economic reason for it to close.

“The state government is embarking on an ambitious exercise of turning Sarawak into a developed state by 2030. Instead of supporting the government’s objective of promoting the Sarawak Corridor of Renewable Energy (SCORE) which is focused on Samalaju Industrial Park located within Bintulu and the government’s shared prosperity vision, Standard Chartered Bank has decided instead to desert and abandon its customers in Bintulu,” according to Law in a statement.

He asserted that the bank had achieved a profit exceeding RM1 billion for the past three years and is forecasted to be on track to achieve its targeted profit for this financial year.

While the bank has claimed that customers can continue to enjoy the same level of service with Internet banking, Law called it absurd as there is a great difference between being served by a machine or online banking as compared to being served by attentive staff.

“The bank’s offering of Voluntary Separation Scheme (VSS) as a means to force its staff in Bintulu to leave is indeed appalling. The package is the worst ever and our request for the bank through the human resources department to improve the package has been arrogantly rejected.

“The bank’s chief executive officer has not responded to our letter. The staff are left with only two choices: either take the VSS or face being uprooted from their hometown and transferred to another town which will cause great inconvenience to them and their families,” Law alleged.

He added that little consideration was given when these staff have loyally served the bank — some for over 30 years — and the most humane thing to do is to give them a decent exit package.

“We therefore call on Abang Johari and Tiong King Sing to protect the interest of Sarawakians by calling on the bank to defer the closure of its Bintulu branch or at the very least ensure that the closure is managed in a sincere and humane manner,” Law added. — DayakDaily