RBC scrambles to explain hiring practices after contentious report - Macleans.ca

RBC scrambles to explain hiring practices after contentious report

Bank moves to clarify hiring strategies in response to outcry

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TORONTO – The Royal Bank of Canada was scrambling to explain its hiring practices to customers Sunday after a media report claiming the bank was employing foreign workers to replace Canadian staff prompted a flood of outrage.

Canada’s largest bank said it has not hired foreign workers to take over the job functions of current employees, but said it uses external suppliers as one of its strategies to improve “operational effectiveness.”

Zabeen Hirji, chief human resources officer, said the company is working to find suitable roles for 45 Toronto employees whose jobs are being outsourced.

“RBC is not hiring new employees that are temporary foreign workers to do that work,” she said in a phone interview, noting that those who will take on the work “are going to be the supplier’s employees.”

RBC said it planned to discuss the situation with government officials.

That wasn’t enough to placate a number of Canadians who took to the Internet to express their anger at what many called unfair hiring practices. RBC was trending on Twitter in Canada Sunday afternoon.

“Bad move @RBC I’ve been thinking about switching, thanks for making decision easy for me,” tweeted one man.

“What is wrong with you @RBC_Canada,” tweeted another. “Making Canadians lose their jobs … I will switch banks, if not corrected.”

The bank’s move to clarify its hiring strategies came after a CBC News report that quoted a Toronto employee working in IT systems support for RBC Investor Services who said he and dozens of others were losing their jobs to temporary foreign workers.

Dave Moreau told the public broadcaster that he and others are being made to train the new workers who will be taking their jobs.

CBC said the foreign workers are employed by iGate Corp, a multinational outsourcing firm. The company’s website says it has offices that provide services for RBC in India.

The company’s website also indicates it provides services for TD Bank and Pratt and Whitney Canada among other international clients.

Human Resources Minister Diane Finley issued a statement saying the RBC situation is unacceptable if it is true.

RBC responded by saying it requires all its external suppliers to follow applicable hiring regulations in Canada.

“RBC agreements with suppliers, including in this case iGATE, requires them to ensure that they are abiding by the applicable laws and regulations,” Greg Grice, RBC’s head of Enterprise Services and chief procurement officer said in a statement.

“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.”

The bank added that it recognized the impact such an arrangement had on its employees.

Hirji said the bank is “continuing to work with our employees to help them retrain, redeploy and go through that process” so they can transition to other positions.

Some Canadians called for a boycott of RBC on Sunday.

One blogger urged offended customers to transfer their business to other institutions. Some commenting on blogger Norm Farrell’s post said they planned to cancel their accounts.

On Facebook, a “Boycott Royal Bank of Canada” group — which received 350 “likes” by mid Sunday afternoon —called on customers to voice their discontent by writing to the prime minister and his cabinet.

“The temporary foreign worker thing I think is really designed to help out big corporations. They’re stealing jobs from us and attempting to lower the average wage in Canada,” said Jennifer Ridge, a student at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ont., who was one of the people co-ordinating the Facebook group.

Ridge said she planned to close her RBC account in the near future.

The prospect of a boycott didn’t seem to shake Hirji, who said she believed the public’s opinion would change once it became clear the bank wasn’t hiring temporary foreign workers.

“I think what people want to see is how are we working with the employees that are being affected,” she said.

When asked about the government’s response to the RBC report, Immigration Minister Jason Kenney’s office referred questions to Finley’s office.

Finley said her department would be working with Citizenship and Immigration Canada to determine next steps regarding the claims against RBC.

“We have recently learned of allegations that RBC could be replacing Canadian workers by contracting with iGate, which is filling some of the roles with temporary foreign workers. If true, this situation is unacceptable,” Finley said in her statement.

“Canada is experiencing significant skills and labour shortages in many regions. When there are jobs available, Canadians must always be the first in line for opportunities from employers who are hiring.”

Meanwhile, the United Steel Workers, which was among those voicing its disapproval of RBC, said the entire temporary foreign worker program and the government’s handling of it, needed to change.

“They have to re-look at this entire program and do it right. No one’s opposed to workers coming to this country, but not the way they’re doing it, not the way they’re treating people,” said USW National Director Ken Neuman.

“If you’re going to bring workers to this country, if they’re good enough to work here, our position is they should also be able to transition and become permanent residents.”

The USW added that it was ready to assist RBC workers and represent them in legal matters as needed.

In 2012, there were more than 213,000 foreign workers in Canada, compared with over 160,000 immigrants who arrived under the federal skilled worker program.

The rapid growth of the temporary foreign worker program has raised concerns that Canadian companies are filling job vacancies with cheaper workers from overseas rather than actively finding Canadians to fill the jobs.

Much of the government’s latest budget, released in March, focused on reversing that trend, with millions being allocated for training and job creation programs.

At the same time, the government is continuing to overhaul the temporary foreign worker program.

The changes were prompted in part by a continuing controversy in B.C. surrounding a mining firm allowed to bring in foreign labour after insisting that a requirement to speak Mandarin meant it couldn’t find Canadians to fill their jobs.

The budget said that’s no longer going to be an excuse and also said employers will have to advertise longer and farther to find Canadians to fill jobs before looking overseas.

In late February, RBC reported a first-quarter profit of $2.07 billion, or $1.36 per share, up from $1.86 billion, or $1.23 a share, a year ago.

Its revenue grew to $7.91 billion, from $7.57 billion a year earlier.

Here’s how the story played out on social media:

#RBC’s foreign workers hiring uproar

Storified by Maclean’s Magazine· Sun, Apr 07 2013 18:46:43

The Royal Bank of Canada’s PR team will likely be working overtime this coming week after a CBC report said the bank would be replacing some of their Canadian staff with foreign workers. Through the company iGate, who bring in a workforce via the Temporary Foreign Worker Program, RBC is reportedly outsourcing 45 jobs of Toronto employees. Needless to say, many Canadians—especially those with RBC bank accounts—were upset.
Is this even legal? RBC replaces Canadian staff with foreign workers cbc.sh/21Hqa1PMargaret E. Atwood
So RBC is doing this cbc.ca/news/canada/br… while simultaneously doing this: business.financialpost.com/2013/02/04/rbc… Nice.Dan Gardner
Think of the money that could be saved if RBC executives were replaced by temporary foreign workers. cbc.ca/news/canada/br…Dan Gardner
#RBC = Rewarding Bank CEO’sJennifer Falconer
Talk about bad timing for ad placement #RBC pic.twitter.com/vFFNsvsaTXRob Collins
Shocked – SHOCKED! – to learn banks care more about money than people. #RBCCraig MacBride
Man, even the RBC logo character in the bowler hat looks foreign.Douglas Hunter
Flickr
The news may lead to the exodus of at least a few customers.
@RBC FYI – I never thought I would use twitter to break up with someone…until today – say bye bye to our RRSP, RESP TFSA, all bank a/c’sCraiger Pequeño
@RBC "Money Talks" And right about now, mine’s saying "Good-bye, #RBC" #cdnpoli
#royalbank I will be calling my #RBC account manager tomorrow to arrange a time to discuss moving my #RBC accounts to another bankTheresa A-B
Good-bye @RBCChristina Decarie
Okay. #RBC responds by saying that outsourcing Canadian jobs "will save money". I need a new bank…which ones value Canadians? Bye, fatcat.fhaedra songrider
.@RBC Replacing Canadian workers with foreign workers??? You have lost this customer. Good bye & good riddance. cc @CBCNewsGrimar Security
So long, @RBCBob Dunlop
@RBC what’s the story guys? From a PR pro, I gotta tell you that silence is a #brutal strategy. Why do you deserve my business?Jordan Sinclair
The news drew a response from the government…
“You cannot displace Canadians to hire people from abroad,” said Immigration Minister Jason Kenney cbc.sh/21Hqa1P #cdnpoli #RBCCarolyn Hudson
…and RBC’s official response came via their Facebook account.
We want to address media reports and provide clarification about RBC’s use of external suppliers. RBC has not hired foreign workers to take over the job functions of current RBC employees. Like most businesses, RBC works with many suppliers to provide certain products and services in Canada and globally. Initiatives that impact our employees are always difficult but we work with them to find new roles that match their skills and the bank’s business requirements. We have released a statement here for more details <a href="http://bit.ly/ZHQihH" class="">http://bit.ly/ZHQihH</a>.
The statement went as follows:
RBC wants to address media reports and provide clarification. Contrary to allegations, RBC has not hired temporary foreign workers to take over the job functions of current RBC employees. Like most businesses, RBC works with many suppliers to provide certain products and services in Canada and globally.”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.”

Initiatives that impact our employees are always difficult. When employees are affected, we work with them to find new roles that match their skills and interests and the bank’s business requirements. In instances where this is not possible, we provide affected employees with assistance to support them in 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.”

I think the RBC spin doctor better start revising her own resume. RBC’s outsourcing of jobs is blowing up in their face #RBCFailinKamloops
And the RBC wasn’t without at least some support on Twitter.
Hey @RBC just saw your FB page response to media reports. Some people don’t know what they’re talking about. Stay strong! =) #staypositiveJacqueline Wong
@JJWong22 Are you supporting @RBC ‘s program of TFW’s taking Canadian jobs? Or are you saying you believe the bank over the workers?paladine
@paladine @RBC I dont think TFWs are taking Canadian jobs. I think having them is actually beneficial to us.Jacqueline Wong
@JJWong22 @paladine @RBC beneficial??? how??? lower fees??? NO. Efficient customer service? NO….enhancing Canadian Economy??? NO..fridayfridayfriday
@gandhiwannabe @paladine @RBC yes, yes and yes lolJacqueline Wong
@paladine @RBC you honestly can’t believe everything that is presented on the media is 100% true, can you?Jacqueline Wong
@JJWong22 @raybilodeau @rbc @rbc4students Well – this looks like you’re striving to be an employee. Whatever – good luck.Stella
@Mira458 @RayBilodeau @RBC @RBC4Students yes, I am striving to be an employee cause they do give jobs to Canadians as well. Thank you! :)Jacqueline Wong
However you feel about RBC and their hiring practices, this story is sure to be a talking point for when the bank opens on Monday.
This will be an interesting story to follow and see how it shakes out #RBC #Foreignworkers bit.ly/Y7CMJDDes Nwaerondu
No matter how bad your day was, it probably didn’t come close to @RBC PR/ Social Media team’s day & upcoming week #silverliningLori Franze

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