Roseau – The Waterfront and Allied Workers Union (WAWU) Monday said it is not “totally surprised” at the decision by the CIBC First Caribbean International Bank (CIBC-FCIB) to end its operations in Dominica.
Last weekend, the bank’s director for Barbados and the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) Donna Wellington announced CIBC-FCIB will be closing its branch in the island on January 31 next year.
WAWU president Donald Rolle said the union viewed the announcement as “concerning”.
“However, we are not totally surprised because for some time now, we knew the bank was trying to sell its assets and having not been successful… so we can’t say we are totally shocked,” Rolle said on the state-owned DBS radio.
Rolle said the immediate task was to “ensure that monies owed to the staff are paid to them”, but he did not disclose how many workers will be affected by the closure.
“It is an unfortunate situation for them and their families, and for Dominica on a whole,” the trade union leader said. “It is not a very good thing for a bank to close its doors or operations. A bank which has been in operations for such a long time, but business is such you have to weigh your options…
“We have decided we have to move forward, we accept this is what it is and we will now work to secure what is due to the workers.”
In her correspondence, Wellington said decisions, such as ceasing operations, were never easy and “never taken lightly”.
“We have made this decision in light of our stated strategy of simplifying our structure and following the sale of two of our businesses in St Kitts and St Vincent, in addition to the sale of our business in Aruba earlier in 2022,” Wellington said in a news release this past Friday.
She noted that the bank was mindful of its continuing obligations to its team in Dominica and to its clients during the period of transition.
Wellington said it will put in place arrangements for clients with loan facilities and credit card services.
“Until we can put the necessary arrangements in place, we will continue doing what we’ve always done – helping our clients to make the right decision to maintain their financial health,” she said.
“Our focus is also on supporting our employees through this time of transition. We will continue to keep all our stakeholders apprised of the developments as they unfold.”
CIBC-FCIB described itself as “a relationship bank offering a full range of market leading financial services through our corporate and investment banking, retail and business banking and wealth management segments” currently operates in 15 territories around the Caribbean.
“We are one of the largest regionally listed financial services institutions in the English and Dutch speaking Caribbean, with U.S. $13 billion in assets and market capitalisation of U.S. $1.3 billion,” the news release stated.
The news release from the bank, which currently employs approximately 2 800 people in 64 branches and offices, stated: “The face of banking is changing throughout the world and CIBC-FCIB intends to lead these changes with the expertise, integrity and knowledge gained from banking in the Caribbean since 1836.”