MTUC: “Immoral” for top bankers to reap hefty rewards during economic crisis

THE hefty bonuses and perks given to top bankers recently is “immoral” and unfair to those who did the real work; the rank-and-file members of the industry.

“The banks refused to give loan moratorium extension for the vulnerable, especially the M40 and B40 groups, citing strain on the financial system.

“Yet, they have no qualms giving massive rewards to their top executives, benefitting only a small segment. This is senseless,” Malaysian Trades Union Congress (MTUC) Penang chapter secretary K Veeriah told FocusM.

Five days ago, The Malaysian Reserve reported that those holding top positions in Malaysian banks reaped handsome bonuses and increments last year, despite cost-cutting measures due to the COVID-19 triggered economic downturn.

K Veeriah

It was reported that at least three of the top bankers received more than a 10% pay bump, while others received remuneration in bonuses and perks.

AMMB Holdings Bhd chief CEO Datuk Sulaiman Mohd Tahir recorded the biggest hike in pay, taking home RM6.64 mil last year compared to RM 4.2 mil in 2019, a whopping 58% increase.

This included a RM2.54 mil on salary and bonuses, worth RM3.14 mil.

Opposition Leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim also weighed in on the matter, saying the banks were being insensitive to the people’s suffering.

“Last year, when we called for a loan moratorium extension to assist vulnerable families and businesses, bankers told us the move may disrupt the banking industry and affect the financial system.

“Our Finance Minister Datuk Seri Tengku Zafrul Abdul Aziz supported the banks and moved for a targetted approach instead.

Use profits to help M40, B40 employees

“Now we are told the banking sector may see profitability this year and has given pay hikes to senior executives as high as 58%. The CEO of at least one government-linked companies (GLC) bank has earned 10% boost in salary,” the Port Dickson MP was reported saying.

It is to note that Tengku Zafrul himself pocketed RM8.53 mil in remuneration in 2019, during his stint as CIMB’s CEO.

Touching on the matter, Veeriah said that banks should share its profits equitably among its employees, especially those who contributed to their massive profits.

“The rank-and-file staffers contributed much more to the output compared to the top management people, doing all they can to sell the banks’ products and services.

“Instead, a small group of people reaped a handsome reward from the profits made. To me, this defies logic,” he opined.

Veeriah added that top executives are already earning hefty remunerations between five figures and six figures, thus, it made no sense to keep the profits circulating among those group of individuals.

With that, the veteran unionist urged the Government to intervene on the matter, especially banks owned by GLCs.

“Some of these banks did not perform well. Even if they did, do the top executives there truly deserve such rewards?” he asked.

On related matter, Veeriah urged GLCs to expand its corporate social responsibility (GLC) measures by providing a social safety net to its employees, particularly those earning low wages.

“Extend some form a safety net to your middle income and low-income staffers using your profits. With that, we can also reduce unemployment in the country,” he added. – March 28, 2021.

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