RBC staff say they’re being ‘set up’

by Wade Gibbons

rbcbridgetownSome workers at RBC Royal Bank (Barbados) Limited are crying “foul” over industrial practices at the bank which they deem a likely precursor to their unfair dismissal from the organisation.

And already over the past few months at least 15 staffers have either been dismissed from sections of the bank such as the Information Technology Department; have opted to leave the financial institution; or have written its human resources department registering the trauma which they allegedly have endured at the hands of management following the merger of Royal Bank of Canada and the Royal Bank of Trinidad and Tobago.

Some staffers indicated that in a recent scenario the bank’s hierarchy issued them with warning letters in April citing performance issues dating back four years for which no initial complaint was made at the time they are alleged to have transgressed.

Barbados TODAY obtained a copy of a warning letter where reference was made to developing competencies/lower performance for the period October 2009 to September 2010; non-performance/lower performance for the period October 2010 to September 2011; and lower performance for the period October 2011 to September 2012.

The warning letter stated, inter alia – “Consistent with the above mentioned, the following key performance gaps were identified as requiring immediate and sustained improvement: Consistent failure to meet sales targets; failure to respond to requests within deadlines set; failure to complete outstanding and upcoming credit renewals, and keeping them up to date; failure to conduct monthly follow up and completion of the out of order security list; and failure to pass on completed loan files as required on a weekly basis.”

The bank’s letter to staffer’s suggested that despite weekly coaching interventions, the workers had failed to achieve the required standards of performance.

The warning letter also noted that “failure to achieve and sustain an improvement” in their performance by last month-end would result in further corrective action as provided by the company’s progressive discipline policy which might also include dismissal.

But some workers, speaking to Barbados TODAY on condition of anonymity, said they were being “set up” by the bank for possible dismissal.

“Why would a banking institution have a difficulty with your performance from since 2009 and wait until April 2013 for the first time to not only bring a concern to your attention, but also to issue you with a warning letter?” queried one staffer with more than 10 years with the bank.

“If it is their intention to sever ties with us, give us the money they owe us for the many years we have worked and let us go.

Nothing lasts forever but do not trump up allegations against us without substance to get rid of us without giving us our due,” another worker stated, adding that in many instances they did work outside their job descriptions.

The staffers who spoke alleged that despite the prevailing economic situation in Barbados, the bank continued to set unrealistic targets and encouraged the foisting of debt and financial products on customers.

They also noted that among those who had seemingly fallen out of favour with the bank were mainly members of the Barbados Workers Union. They also revealed that the workers from RBTT absorbed in the merger were those being mainly affected.

The concerned staffers have registered their objections to the warning letters to bank’s management and have rebutted the claims in a letter sent to the bank’s employee relations manager.

The letter, a copy of which Barbados TODAY obtained, stated that the staffers’ personal files did not corroborate the assertions made in management’s warning letters that there were weekly coaching interventions and follow-up discussions with staffers.

“Our personal files will show that in keeping with proper human resources management principles and practices and in particular, with the established RBC Human Resource protocols, there was no follow-up discussion between our immediate supervisors and us outlining weaknesses, training interventions and evaluations by the bank of our subsequent performance, to determine whether or not there was an improvement

“For the three mentioned periods of review our attention was not drawn to any documentation of remedial action taken by management, in the form of a personal development plan or otherwise, to determine whether or not we had achieved the standard of performance expected to warrant the adverse comments highlighted in your letter of April 23, 2013. We will therefore welcome your adducing such documented evidence to substantiate your allegation,” the response to management noted.

The staffers indicated to management it should produce documented evidence to justify the threat of a warning letter and further disciplinary action.

“It [documented evidence] would also be necessary to support your further assertions of our failure to meet the performance standards required of us, in keeping with the RBC Progressive Disciplinary policy. . .we as employees should therefore not be victims of a system in which the bank fails to discharge their human resource function in the organisation,” the staffers noted.

The workers also pointed to the fact that prior to the merger in 2008 they had received commendation for outstanding individual work at RBTT, had been placed in positions of increased responsibility and had received promotions.

Efforts to reach Horace Cobham, Market Head, Personal Banking were unsuccessful and it was revealed that he was on vacation until September 2.

Over the past weeks RBC Royal Bank workers in Antigua have taken strike action on industrial relations issues, some of which mirror the concerns of Barbadian workers. Similar job losses have also been reported at RBC Royal Bank in the Bahamas and Trinidad and Tobago. wadegibbons@barbadostoday.bb

8 Responses to RBC staff say they’re being ‘set up’

  1. Tony Webster August 21, 2013 at 6:42 am

    Cherchez the “Spirit of the Law”, which is not necessarily always ideally represented by the “Letter of the law”. Look again at our shiny new labour law, which, like all laws writ by man, is oft a double-edged sword! You asked for it; and you got it.

  2. WendyV August 21, 2013 at 8:32 am

    The complaints contained in the article are consistent with what friends working there have told me over the last year. Pushing staff to accomplish the unrealistic goals they set, giving poor performance reports for not meeting these targets and cutting bonuses because of it. In times of economic hardship the bank has increased its goals and complain when employees can’t get unemployed cash strapped customers to commit to debt. Only a week or so ago the Bank announced further staff cuts due to take effect shortly.

  3. Rosalie August 21, 2013 at 10:40 am

    I love the Trinidadian way of conducting business – dismiss Barbadians, when it’s time to replace, replace with Trinis. If a Barbadian wants to buy or takeover a business we Barbadians think that they want to get too rich. What more money they want? But let the Trinis take over – luv ya’ Trini

  4. Kim August 21, 2013 at 7:28 pm

    Don’t worry Rosalie! The Bajans are well aware of the Trinis plans to dismiss them. You watch our camp who is watching yours

  5. One2Work August 21, 2013 at 9:22 pm

    It is high time that it be understood among us, that banks including the one mentioned in the preceding article, whether they be ‘local’ or ‘international’ are there for one reason and one reason alone, to make money for their investors. They do not see themselves as ‘good corporate citizens’, ‘community partners’ or as friends ‘getting there together’.. Toe-ing the line or being on the side-line means nothing to them, it is the bottom-line which is important. As my great-aunt and many an elder has said…”Put that in yuh pipe an’ smoke it”.

  6. Helen of Troy August 22, 2013 at 9:24 pm

    MY Bajan brothers and sisters your anger is mis-directed. Trinis are not the ones out to get you, they are simply puppets controlled and directed by the Master Puppeteers!! Think about it they can do nothing on their own accord.
    From what I have read in our newspapers here in Trinidad,
    Employees of RBC Trinidad and Tobago seem to be experiencing the same level of trauma that you are. Maybe the workers in RBC Antigua have shown the way?


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