TBank union seeks higher severance payments

TBank union seeks higher severance payments

Thanachart Bank's labour union expects 4,000-5,000 jobs to be cut after TBank consolidates with TMB Bank, and union leaders are calling for both banks to offer higher severance payments than are legally required for those to be laid off.

After the merger is completed, overlapping branches and jobs are expected to be axed, with employee downsizing unavoidable, said Supachai Patrapisudtana, head of TBank's labour union. He made the statement after submitting a letter to Finance Minister Uttama Savanayana requesting the protection of benefits for employees of both banks.

If redundancy is needed, the labour union would like both banks to pay a higher severance amount than is required by law to allow those laid off to live a more comfortable life, Mr Supachai said.

At present, TBank and TMB each have about 10,000 employees.

Although top executives of both banks have insisted that no staff will be laid off, they have ratcheted up pressure on employees and adopted tougher performance evaluations, Mr Supachai said, adding that such practices are intended to force some employees to resign.

In February, TMB entered into a non-binding memorandum of understanding to consolidate with TBank through an entire business transfer with an estimated transaction value of 130-140 billion baht. The new entity will be the sixth-biggest bank after Bank of Ayudhya, with an asset size of 2.1 trillion baht.

Due diligence for the merger of TMB and TBank is almost complete, marking a step towards the formation of a single bank expected to provide financial services by December.

According to the major shareholder structure of both banks, the Finance Ministry holds a 25.9% stake in TMB and Dutch bank ING has a 25% stake. SET-listed Thanachart Capital holds a 51% stake in TBank, while Canada's Scotiabank owns the remainder.

A representative from the State Enterprise Policy Office who received the labour union's letter on behalf of Mr Uttama said the merger is under the study process and both banks' workers will be protected.

Meanwhile, TBank chief executive and president Praphan Anupongongarch gave assurances that there is no layoff plan in the pipeline. But he said TBank can't guarantee that all employees' jobs will remain unchanged at the merged bank.

In cases of overlap, some workers will be reshuffled to other responsibilities, leaving it up to employees as to whether they will continue at the merged bank, Mr Praphan said.

Staff at both banks will be treated equally, he said.

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