KUALA LUMPUR | The banking sector and the government should show their appreciation for bank employees for their service during the Covid-19 pandemic with a one-off payment.

National Union of Bank Employees (Nube) general secretary J. Solomon said this would be similar to the payment given to healthcare frontliners and civil servants, adding that the payment should also cover all private sector frontliners.

“The government should not think twice in calling out banks and other employers to give workers the due recognition they deserve in helping to mitigate the impact of Covid-19 on the rakyat,” he said in a statement.

Solomon argued that banks especially should not dismiss or trivialise the role of their employees in keeping branches open while much of the country was in one form of lockdown or another.

“During the height of the nationwide movement control order and the numerous variations of lockdowns which followed, scores of bank workers turned up to keep banks open as they were considered essential services.

“In the ensuing months, these employees carried out their work diligently in helping to provide an essential service to the rakyat. They underwent rigorous standard operating procedures before, during, and after work to ensure the safety of the customers and themselves,” he said.

Solomon said this came at the expense of several bank employees becoming infected with Covid-19 during the course of their duties, while many others were subjected to swab tests and had to endure the anxiety of waiting for the results.

“The banks should at the very least provide a similar one-off payment to the bank workers, many of them who are from the B40 and M40 groups.

“Nube feels the banks can easily afford this as they recorded more than healthy profits so far this year. Maybank for instance notched RM942 million in profit for the second quarter of 2020 (April-June), CIMB’s profit was RM277 million in the same period, RHB’s was RM400 million and Public Bank’s profit was RM1 billion,” he said.

Solomon noted that in addition to Health Ministry frontliners who were given a one-off payment of RM300, similar remunerations were also extended to members of the police, the Armed Forces, the People’s Volunteer Corps, as well as the National Disaster Management Agency.

“This is the right thing to do, but what is not right is for the government and the private sector, especially banks to not show any sense of appreciation to other frontliners, such as bank workers, delivery people and many unsung heroes from other sectors of the economy which kept the country ticking.

“Nube urges the government and banks to display some gratitude for bank employees who have pulled their weight without questions in playing their role during the pandemic. Some form of monetary recognition will go a long way to show they are cared and provided for by both their employers and the government,” he said.