Scotia principals meet with workers’ representatives today

David Massiah, general secretary of the Antigua Barbuda Workers Union ABWU (file photo)

The directors of Scotiabank will be travelling to Antigua today to hold talks with officials from the Antigua and Barbuda Workers Union (ABWU) regarding the move to sell its operations on the island (and in several other countries) to Republic Financial Holdings Limited (RFHL) of Trinidad & Tobago.

The talks will be held some time this morning at the Tradewinds Hotel.

General Secretary of the ABWU David Massiah said the union wants to hear more details about the planned acquisition by RFHL and what will happen going forward where the Scotiabank’s staff are concerned.

“One of the chief factors would be the current position of the senior members of the bank to have severance at this time. We have the opportunity to share our concerns and that of the employees because it is one that is creating undue stress at this particular time on the employees,” Massiah said.

He stated further that the request for the meeting follows the bank’s letter to the union dated November 27, indicating officially that it was selling its business and what would be the end results between itself and Republic Bank.

Officials from Scotiabank were expected to hold similar discussions with Prime Minister Gaston Browne. However, a day or two after the meeting was scheduled to take place, Information Minister Melford Nicholas informed the media that the high-level talks had been postponed until further notice.

The minister also added that scheduling appeared to be the reason why the meeting never took place.

Meanwhile, officials of the Trinidad-based RFHL and representatives of Scotiabank held “cordial and productive discussions” with the Prime Minister of St Kitts and Nevis, Dr Timothy Harris, last Wednesday.

A government statement issued after the interaction noted that Prime Minister Harris was informed of RFHL’s commitment to welcoming all of Scotiabank’s staff into the Republic Group.  It said this would increase the group’s staff complement to over 6,000.

Last November, RFHL announced it was seeking to acquire Scotiabank operations in nine Caribbean countries, namely, Antigua and Barbuda, Anguilla, Dominica, Guyana, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Martin, Grenada, St. Lucia, and St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

Antigua and Barbuda and Guyana expressed reservations about the proposed acquisition, with PM Browne indicating that he would not be issuing a vesting order to facilitate the change of ownership unless local banks are given the first right of refusal. Should Scotia still refuse to revisit the intended sale, the Prime Minister added, his government was prepared to go the way of compulsory acquisition as permitted by law, in situations where an overriding national or public interest is at stake.