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article imageRBC accused of replacing Canadian staff with temp foreign workers

By KJ Mullins     Apr 7, 2013 in Business
The Royal Bank of Canada has been accused of replacing Canadian staff with workers that staff trained from India. The Indian workers are in Canada as part of the temporary foreign workers program.
The temporary foreign workers program was designed to fill gaps where there are labour or skill shortages in Canada. It was not designed to replace available Canadian citizens or permanent residents for lower wages.
CBC broke the story that current Canadian employees at RBC have been training the temporary workers who will then take their jobs. Many of those who are affected are in their late 50s and early 60s but not yet ready for retirement. They were notified in February that 45 employees with the regulatory and financial applications team will be fired at the end of April.
The Indian workers are employees of iGATE Corp. which has a contract with RBC. The iGATE workers will work from the Toronto office until 2015 then be transferred abroad while a select few will remain in Canada.
CBC reports that RBC said that the work being outsourced was for cost savings and efficiency.
This action goes directly against the rules of the Temporary Foreign Worker program. Not only do the iGATE workers not have the skill set that is needed for the job there are workers in Canada that do.
RBC says that they are attempting to find new positions for the displaced workers but at this time employees say less than five have new jobs.
Canadian Human Resources and Skills Development Minister Diane Finley.
Canadian Human Resources and Skills Development Minister Diane Finley.
Government of Canada
Human Resources and Skills Development Minister Diane Finley said in a statement today that Canada is experiencing significant skills and labour shortages in many regions. That said if the allegations that RBC is replacing Canadian workers by contracting with iGate, which is filling some of the roles with temporary foreign workers it is unacceptable.
"The purpose of the Temporary Foreign Worker Program is to fill acute labour needs when Canadians are not available for the work required. It was never intended as a means to bring in temporary foreign workers in order to replace already-employed Canadian workers. This is why we have launched a review of the program.
Economic Action Plan 2013 committed to reforming Canada's Temporary Foreign Worker Program in order to ensure that situations such as this won't happen again. We continue to believe that Canadians should always be the first in line to fill available jobs in Canada.
With regards to this particular matter, I have instructed my department to work with Citizenship and Immigration Canada to determine the next steps."
The United Steelworkers released a statement today:
"The news that RBC is replacing 45 of its employees with workers from India is just further proof that corporations and the Harper government intend to use the Temporary Foreign Worker Program to lower wages across Canada," said Ken Neumann, National Director of the United Steelworkers (USW). "We are ready to assist the RBC workers and represent them in any legal matters and hope they will contact us."
USW pointed out that Royal Bank of Canada chief executive officer Gordon Nixon currently is making $12.6 million in salary, stock and bonuses. (fiscal 2012) This makes Nixon the highest paid bank CEO in Canada.
RBC addressed the media reports today with a statement as well saying that the temporary foreign workers were not brought in to take over job functions of current RBC employees.
"RBC agreements with suppliers, including in this case iGATE, requires them to ensure that they are abiding by the applicable laws and regulations," said Greg Grice, head of Enterprise Services and chief procurement officer. "External suppliers allow us to leverage their scale and technical skills to continually improve our operational processes and service, and re-invest in initiatives that enhance the client experience."
Stating that they are working with the affected employees to find suitable jobs or when not possible providing those affected with assistance to support their career transition.
"We recognize the impact of this situation on our employees and we continue to remain focused on assisting our employees through this transition. We are working diligently to find suitable roles for those affected and it is our hope over the next few months to transition them to other positions," said Zabeen Hirji, chief human resources officer, RBC. "RBC continues to create jobs in many areas of the organization and has a track record of retraining and redeploying our staff."
Considering that Hirji is responsible for Human Resources it is interesting to note that she is the current director of the Greater Toronto CivicAction Alliance and Co-Chair of the Toronto Region Immigrant Employment Council.
One of CivicAction's vision points is that Toronto has homes and jobs for all, with narrowing income gaps and safe, liveable neighbourhoods. The group, made up of a Board of Directors and a 75-leader Steering Committee, is also focusing on enhancing the region's economic performance with initiatives to modernize income security for working age adults.
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