Global Union Action for The World’s Local Bank, HSBC

Interesting things are happening on labour scenario. When we talk of global organisations we usually mean big corporations that span across several countries. Unions are also going global now.

It is interesting to find that unions are now planning to organise employees across countries under a common banner. This admittedly is not the ‘first of its kind’ effort, but in the era when we thought unions are getting irrelevant, this activity draws my attention.

Mr. Karthik Shekhar whose interview I published earlier on this blog says, “We as affiliate [of UNI Global Union] actioned and requested HSBC global bank to accept global frame work agreement. This we did at the Outsourcing Office of HSBC in Hyderabad. When UNITES Professionals went to hand over the representation the organisers/activists were stopped from handing over the representation. In a written communication the HSBC Bank has stated that they will not accept the representation.” [Photgraph shows UNITES representatives stopped at the HSBC Gate at Hyderabad]

A copy of the Bank’s letter is in our hands. Gaurav Ahluwalia, Sr Vice President HR of HSBC’s Oursourcing outfit responded to UNITES, “At HSBC we remain committed to fair employment practices and an environment of high employee engagement, as these are the cornerstones of our relationships with our staff. As such, we do not see the need for any global agreement. A meeting therefore to handover a representation to this effect is not required.”

It is going to be interesting to watch what happens next. The World’s Local Bank has some global moves to make now, refusal to accept a letter is just a “PQ4” in this game!!

Here is what the union says on its website….

Support for global agreements in HSBC and Santander

A union proposal to build a global agreement campaign in HSBC and Santander, two of the world’s global banking giants, has been strongly supported by European Finance unions.

Participants of the UNI Europa Finance Conference joint by their colleagues from around the world sent Christmas cards to the heads of Santander and HSBC, Botin and Green, “wishing” for negotiations on global agreements.

The European unions pledged their support to other union colleagues from Spain, UK, US, Brazil and Malaysia to build a global alliance in these two banks. UNI Finance has approached both banks to negotiate a global agreement. At this stage we are waiting a reply from HSBC and Grupo Santander are still forming their position. [Emphasis supplied]

The key part of the campaign is to form a global alliance among all unions representing workers in these two banks. This alliance will serve as a hub for information exchange and bargaining strength to negotiate a global agreement with the banks. UNI Finance unions believe a global agreement in these companies could deliver:

• constructive/effective dialogue between management and unions throughout a multinational company.

• creation of union structures and recruitment of members where workers have been denied the right to belong to unions.

A Global Agreement with HSBC and Santander will help to build worker power in the Finance industry.

UNI Finance is committed to a global agreement with the following key elements:

• strengthened social dialogue processes to engage on workers’ issues;

• access to workers to discuss unionisation and other key issues

• recognition of unions without employer interference or resistance

• swift processes to deal with conflict locally and globally;

• commitment to ILO standards and legal minimums in each country.

In February 2010 unions throughout the world will be asked to join together in a Global Action and personally deliver their own message to their bank management, demanding a Global Agreement.

“We want to show HSBC and Santander management that UNI Finance unions are united in our campaign for a Global Agreement,” said Oliver Roethig, Head of UNI Finance. “In the second week of February, HSBC and Santander unions will send delegations of their members to local management and deliver their letter demanding a Global Agreement.”

They did and we know the result of the first round!

We will be watching what happens next………