Colombian Bank Workers Union Accuses Spanish Multinational BBVA of Victimising Unionists

News from Colombia | on: Tuesday, 16 November 2010

Workers protesting at a BBVA branch in the Coolombian capital Bogota

Workers protesting at a BBVA branch in the Coolombian capital Bogota

The trade union representing workers in the Colombian financial sector has criticised what they describe as the “systematic anti-trade union policy” of the Spanish banking multinational BBVA. According to the trade union UNEB – the National Union of Bank Employees – staff have been fired by the bank simply for joining the union and numerous employees have had their wages unilaterally withheld or reduced.

The difficulties began after BBVA began withholding payment of commission to staff and, without consultation, reduced agreed upon commission rates. This, says UNEB, is tantamount to changing the terms of employment and helped contribute to an increase in stress related problems reported by staff.

As a result, an increasing number of BBVA employees began joining UNEB. However, 13 staff members who joined in August 2010 were subjected to intimidation by managers leading several to resign from the union and several others to be fired according to Manuel Beltran of UNEB. When another 22 workers joined the union on September 1st some of them found themselves dismissed the following day.

In response to the bank’s behaviour the union established a negotiating committee but one of the two workers appointed to it was himself immediately fired.

UNEB has since organised protests outside several BBVA branches demanding that the fired workers be reinstated and that the company recognise the union as a legitimate representative of the workers. The union has also complained to the International Labour Organisation (ILO) and provided them with comprehensive evidence demonstrating how BBVA has breached several core labour standards, including ILO Conventions 87 and 98 – both of which cover Colombia.

Neither the bank nor the Colombian Government has made any comment.

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