‘Too slow’: Union upset bank workers in Malaysia still not on frontliners list for Covid-19 vaccine after months of waiting

People are seen at a Maybank branch in Shah Alam March 26, 2020. ― Picture by Miera Zulyana
People are seen at a Maybank branch in Shah Alam March 26, 2020. ― Picture by Miera Zulyana

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KUALA LUMPUR, June 11 — The federal government should immediately speed up Covid-19 vaccination for Malaysia’s banking sector as its workers are also frontliners providing essential services to the public, the National Union of Bank Employees (Nube) said today.

Nube general secretary J. Solomon said it was upsetting that the government has yet to categorise bank employees as frontliners for Covid-19 vaccination, after efforts made months ago to ask for priority for their vaccination.

“Nube is upset that to date, banking services employees have not been listed as the frontline target group in obtaining anti-Covid-19 vaccines although several letters on the matter have been submitted to agencies involved in the management of the vaccination programme since last March,” he said in a statement today, as he listed the efforts undertaken.

He noted that the Malaysian Association of Commercial Banks (MCBA) had in mid-March written to the Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation (Mosti) and was informed that Mosti would consider the request for priority to be given to banking employees.

Nube in May then wrote a letter to Mosti, and was told that Nube’s request had been extended to both the Covid-19 Immunisation Task Force (CITF) and the Ministry of International Trade and Industry (Miti).

Nube on June 2 informed Miti that the banking sector had supplied a list of names of the employees involved as requested, but said that there has been no response from Miti to date.

He said the banking employees appreciate the government’s initiatives in conducting vaccination programmes and to achieve the herd immunity targets to curb the spread of Covid-19 and to allow life to return to normal.

“It sure should not take months for the ministry and agencies involved to make a decision, as Malaysians need the banks for their day-to-day survival,” he said.

“Once again, Nube would like to emphasise that it is ready to provide full cooperation and support the vaccination programme that has been initiated by the government, but our efforts in obtaining confirmation from the government agencies involved seem to be too slow,” he added.

“Such actions are detrimental to the health and safety of not only employees but also their families and customers,” he said.

“Therefore, we urge the government to expedite our request by also prioritizing banking sector employees in the list to obtain early-stage vaccination,” he added.

He said Nube is ready to help mobilise bank employees — including the union’s members — to achieve the government’s targets, and said the “promise” to prioritise frontliners in the banking sector — a key sector during the current movement control order (MCO) 3.0 — “must be fulfilled immediately”.

When contacted, Solomon told Malay Mail that there are almost 20,000 bank employees who are members of Nube.

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