'Very depressing': CIBC staff losing jobs to workers in India, expected to help with training

CIBC is eliminating up to 130 jobs in its Toronto finance department and sending the work to India. Staff losing their positions must train other local CIBC employees, who will then train workers in India to take over the jobs.

Up to 130 CIBC finance jobs will be lost due to outsourcing this year

Affected CIBC staff must train other local CIBC employees, who will in turn train workers in India to take over the jobs. (Nathan Denette/Canadian Press)

CIBC is eliminating up to 130 jobs in its Toronto finance department and outsourcing the work to India.

As part of the transition, staff losing their positions must train other local CIBC employees. Those employees then train the workers in India who will be taking over the jobs.

Although they aren't directly training their replacements, the situation isn't sitting well with some affected staff who spoke with CBC News. They asked that their identity be protected because they fear repercussion from CIBC — one of Canada's largest banks.

"It's very, well, depressing," said one employee about having to pass on his work knowledge so that someone in another country can replace him.

"A lot of people would have rather just been let go immediately than to sort of, if you will, suffer [through this]."

"It feels like no one cares for us," said another employee. "The environment is really bad. People are bitter."

The jobs being outsourced are mainly accounting-related positions. CIBC has already let go 16 employees and the layoffs will continue to roll out over the course of the year.

The replacement workers in India are with the global consulting and outsourcing firm, Accenture, which is partnering with CIBC.

$1.4B profit for CIBC

The bank says it has found jobs for 36 displaced staff and is making every effort to find work for others.

But the employees that CBC News spoke with say they feel the bank is more interested in raking in profits than helping them out.

"They want to get rid of us no matter what, because we are old or something," said one worker who claims many of the employees facing layoffs are middle-aged or older.

She said CIBC pulled in a $1.4 billion profit in the last quarter and is still outsourcing jobs to save money. "They said it's cheaper labour and it's 24 hours, because when we are sleeping, they are working."

Another employee said he could accept his layoff if his job had been outsourced to another Canadian company. But he believes sending the work offshore is going too far.

"You have to draw the line somewhere, especially when you're talking about the types of profits that these companies are making," he said. "You're taking these good-paying jobs out of the Canadian economy."

When asked why it's outsourcing the work, CIBC suggested it's a common practice.

"Like most large companies, we selectively outsource," spokesperson Caroline Van Hasselt said in an email.

CIBC currently has 43,000 employees and has created almost 2,500 jobs in Canada over the past five years, she added.

Everybody does it

Many Canadian corporations outsource work to other countries, said Ron Babin, with the Ted Rogers School of Management at Ryerson University.

"It's the way of the world. It's how companies remain efficient, it's how they remain competitive, it's how they keep their costs down."

Many Canadian organizations from banks to government outsource labour, says a business expert. (Vivek Prakash/Reuters)

Although outsourcing is a routine business practice, Babin said it still generates negative attention when people lose their jobs.

"It's a sad story," he said. "You hate to see something bad happen to good people."

In 2013, Royal Bank of Canada faced a tidal wave of criticism following a CBC News report that 45 of its IT employees were being replaced by cheaper workers from India employed by global outsourcing firm, iGATE.

RBC brought several of the replacement workers to Canada, prompting an employee to complain that they had to directly train them to take their jobs.

CIBC says none of its offshore workers are setting foot on Canadian soil.

RBC crossed a line by bringing foreign workers to Canada to be trained by staff facing layoffs, Babin said.

"That was callous, I would say, and I think RBC has learned from that."

RBC won't offshore jobs for money

RBC reacted to the backlash at the time by pledging to never outsource a Canadian job to another country solely to save money.

"RBC will not offshore work where salary savings is the primary reason and will make every effort to source in Canada," the bank said in a statement.

A CBC News story about RBC replacing Canadian staff with foreign workers sparked a tidal wave of criticism. (Reuters)

The bank's then-CEO Gord Nixon also published an open letter in national newspapers, apologizing to affected employees.

"We should have been more sensitive and helpful to them," he said, adding that the workers would all be offered comparable job opportunities at RBC.

The CIBC employees that CBC News spoke with also hope that the bank will have a change of heart and do something to guarantee their jobs.

"How are we supposed to make a living?" says one employee who worries about not being able to land a comparable job. "We have family, we have expenses to take care of."

About the Author

Sophia Harris

Business reporter

Sophia Harris has worked as a CBC video journalist across the country, covering everything from the start of the annual lobster fishery in Yarmouth, N.S., to farming in Saskatchewan. She now has found a good home at the business unit in Toronto. Contact: sophia.harris@cbc.ca

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