GSIS Family Bank files notice of strike

Published by rudy Date posted on March 1, 2011

MANILA, Philippines – Workers at the GSIS Family Bank have put management on notice of an imminent strike on Tuesday over issues arising from the lack of a binding labor agreement with management.

The most aggrieved among the employees were 116 rank-and-file who, for the last 13 months, have pleaded with management to sign a collective-bargaining agreement designed to upgrade worker salaries as low as only P300 a month even for 30-year veterans.

The bank is wholly owned by the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) since 1999, when it was purchased as ComSavings Bank and renamed GSIS Family Bank more than a year later.

This was the same bank GSIS president and general manager Robert Vergara wanted sold for P1.8 billion, which is actually attracting two foreign entities looking to acquire a local license but eventually failing to reach an agreement.

Vergara has maintained that the banking unit does not form part of the fund’s core business and wanted it sold to whoever was interested for the right price.

He also said the program continues to be pursued and likely completed toward the end of the year.

In the meantime, workers under the GSIS Family Bank Employees Union, led by Joseph Entero, said by e-mail that morale is low after 15 months of fruitless negotiation with bank management over salary adjustments and related issues.

Entero claimed the bank spent at least P21 million as salary adjustment for officers who were given up to P21,000 more pay each month when the best the bank offered for rank-and-filers were adjustments up to only P2,000 a month.

The more unfortunate received adjustments as small as P35, he said. Entero said the bank approved a salary adjustment in December 2009, in which bank officers received up to P21,000 more each month when everyone else was given only P2,000.

Entero said they were always asked to be patient with the management whenever they press for salary adjustments ostensibly because the bank was losing money.

Everyone felt betrayed when they realized the officers worked only for their own adjustments and left only morsels for the ordinary workers, he said.

The bank reported assets worth P7.71 billion at end-September 2010, the bulk or P5.38 billion of which were so-called risk-free interest-bearing assets.

It previously reported income totaling P18.5 billion in the first four months last year. –Jun Vallecera, Business Mirror

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