By NATARIO McKENZIE
Tribune Business Reporter
THE Bahamas Financial Services Union's (BFSU) president yesterday said Royal Bank of Canada's (RBC) latest branch closures came as no surprise, adding: "The writing is on the wall."
Theresa Mortimer told Tribune Business that RBC's digital push undoubtedly meant employees would be made redundant. "Royal Bank going digital means a lot of people are going home," she said.
"What they're doing is no surprise to me. I would be telling a lie if I said I was surprised. "I've been following this with my Caribbean counterparts. We can't plead with the staff enough. The staff at RBC don't see the need to be unified and speak with one voice. In Barbados, St Lucia, Trinidad, Grenada, their employees are all unionised. It's not just abut money and speaking with one voice; solidarity is the word."
Ms Mortimer added: "We represent the employees at CIBC, and we sit around the table. If anything is going down it comes after lots of discussion. They don't just pop things on us. We have a partnership agreement which gives ear to certain things."
Royal Bank announced this week that its Robinson Road branch will be merged with Carmichael Road on March 16, with its John F. Kennedy Drive location following a week later on March 23.
The bank also announced that its Andros Town and Long Island branches will closed on March 30 and April 13, respectively.
Cheryl de Goicoechea, Long Island's Chamber of Commerce president, said: "This will have a tremendous impact on the ease of doing business in every way. Businesses will have to discontinue taking credit cards, accepting cheques, if we have no banking services available on the island.
"It will certainly impact tourism because travellers pay with credit cards, as they no longer want to travel with cash.
"They will choose to go elsewhere. How will employers pay their employees? Employees/vendors will not be able to cash the cheques they receive for services. The list goes on. This is a step in the wrong direction for our island."
RBC stopped cashing cheques, accepting bill payments, taking deposits or buying and selling foreign currency for non-customers at all branches on January 2. It now only cashes government cheques and pension cheques for non-clients
Deposits and transfers to other RBC clients' accounts are also no longer accepted over-the-counter in branches, other than those for FINCO clients.
The bank also ceased its FastDeposit service on January 15, while wire transfers will not be processed over-the-counter - and standing orders for credit cards discontinued - from January 31, 2018.
RBC said that it has near 25,000 active users of its mobile banking app.