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Suspend 'reckless' minister, banking union tells Anwar

NUBE says based on its experience dealing with Steven Sim, the human resources minister is part of the problem in the HRD Corp debacle.

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The country's largest bank workers' has called on the prime minister to suspend Human Resources Minister Steven Sim.
The country's largest bank workers' has called on the prime minister to suspend Human Resources Minister Steven Sim.

The country’s largest bank employees' union has called for the suspension of Human Resources Minister Steven Sim in light of damning audit reports on the HRD Corporation, the entity under his purview.

The National Union of Bank Employees (NUBE) said it was not the first time Sim had "dismally failed to discharge his duties", adding that the minister had shown a lack of integrity in his handling of the controversy over festive allowances for employees.

"Going by our experience with him, we can also with a reasonable degree of confidence predict that the HR minister will be a part of the problem, not a part of the solution, in the unfolding HRD Corp debacle," the union said in a statement.

It said Sim's "mishandling" of the festive aid issue has affected 60,000 workers and their families.

"Considering his contemptuous, reckless and ignorant manner of handling the issue that NUBE has with the management of the banks, it comes as no surprise to NUBE that the HR minister has, is and will likely continue to complicate and worsen the HRD Corp scandal, through his participation," it added.

In April, NUBE lodged a police report against Sim, who is also DAP's Bukit Mertajam MP, accusing him of sidelining workers in favour of their employers.

It said Sim had bypassed NUBE and discussed with the the Malayan Commercial Banks' Association (MCBA) about a one-month festive aid promised to workers.

The union had signed an agreement with MCBA last year for banks to pay a month's salary as festive aid, which was supposed to be reviewed by both parties this year.

However, NUBE said the minister had worked with MCBA and got the banks to pay only half a month's salary even as the union had yet to negotiate with the banks.

It said Sim hastily referred the agreement to the Industrial Court and claimed a deadlock.

"How can a negotiation which has not even begun, be deemed a deadlock by the minister?"

NUBE said it has the experience to mediate and resolve such issues in a rational manner and using due process, but Sim "bungled" by derailing the negotiation process.

It said it leads to suspicion that Sim had conspired with employers to "work against the rights and livelihood of the banking worker", adding that the action victimised 60,000 workers and their families.

NUBE said Putrajaya cannot ignore the the anguish felt by the affected workers' families in the B40 and M40 groups.

"In line with our beliefs, we would like to go on record to call upon Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim to suspend Steven Sim Chee Keong for his abysmal performance in discharging his duties," it said.

"We might be the first worker’s organisation to call for Sim’s suspension today, but we sincerely believe that we will not be the last in time to come."

The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) and Auditor-General's (AG) reports revealed that HRDC had spent the levies  that it collected on risky investments in the equity market. 

It was also revealed that HRDC spent money on lavish events at five-star hotels and overseas trips.