On Monday CIBC First Caribbean International Bank made the announcement that its operations in Belize will be taken over by Heritage Bank. For its part Heritage Bank says the acquisition of CIBC First Caribbean’s Belize assets is an excellent opportunity for the Bank as it will provide the ability to further cement itself in the Belize market. CEO of First Caribbean’s Regional Operations Rick Parkhill is quoted as saying the move was necessary to sharpen their focus on the growth opportunities they have in other markets in which the bank operates. For the employees of First Caribbean, the future is uncertain. Yesterday the Christian Workers union which represents the employees issued a release expressing its disappointment with the Bank for quote, “not being forthcoming when the question was directly put to them via a letter dated July 3, 2015”, end of quote. A release from CICB states that quote, “The transaction is subject to regulatory approval and the requisite applications have been submitted to the Central Bank of Belize and the Central Bank of Barbados. The transaction is expected to be finalized in the coming months”, end of quote. And when the transaction is finalized some 60 employees who form part of the CWU will be left without a job. Today, Rik Parkhill, the CEO of CIBC FirstCaribbean Regional Operations, attended a managerial meeting at the bank’s Albert Street Branch. He refused to comment but the Manager of Corporate Communications, Anthony Blackman, shared a few statements.
“Basically it is business as usual at the bank. As we said yesterday we have notified all the relevant persons with respect with the sale approval, we have spoken to the union as well, we’ve informed our staff and we believe that this morning is business as usual at the bank that is as much as we can say at this time.”
“Did the bank handle this situation correctly with the employees? We are told that you just informed them some as late as yesterday.”
“Like I said it’s as much as we are going to be able to say at this time. We have spoken to our employees and we are satisfied that we handled the matter as appropriately as we could given the circumstances. We are really not prepared to say anything more at this time. The sale is subject to regulatory approval and so there can be no specific timeline as such it is all dependent upon regulatory approval.”
CICB FirstCaribbean says that it is very keen to minimize the impact on its employees and its customers in Belize. However, in a release yesterday, the President of the CWU, Audrey Matura Shepherd stated that quote, “Starting this Thursday CWU will enter into negotiations with CIBC to work on a long-overdue Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) to replace the one which expired December 31, 2013. All benefits negotiated under this new CBA will be retroactive to January 1, 2014. Thereafter, CWU will further negotiate the redundancy package for the employees and has asked CIBC to present their offer as soon as possible so its members can be consulted”, end of quote.