RBC chief meets with B.C. union leaders

The head of the Royal Bank of Canada met with B.C. union leaders on Wednesday to discuss the contentious issue of outsourcing and foreign workers.
Royal Bank of Canada CEO Gord Nixon flew to B.C. to meet with union leaders. (Jeff McIntosh/Canadian Press)

The head of the Royal Bank of Canada met with B.C. union leaders on Wednesday to discuss the contentious issue of outsourcing and foreign workers.

The meeting between the unions and RBC chief executive Gordon Nixon came after a CBC investigation revealed that dozens of employees at Canada’s largest bank were losing their jobs to temporary foreign workers.

Last week, the unions threatened to pull $4 billion worth of investments out of RBC if the outsourcing didn't stop.

Jim Sinclair president of the BC Federation of Labour, says they would prefer to keep the union money with RBC.

"We wait, hopeful that they will make the right conclusion there and we won't have to take any steps at all," he said.

"Canadians can walk into a Royal Bank and feel good about putting their money there … knowing that money isn't being used to finance shipping jobs to a third world country where the wages are half or a quarter than they are here."

David Vipond, spokesman for the B.C. Government and Service Employees' Union, said his members have about $900 million invested with RBC.

"For them, it's an ethical issue," he said. "Our preference is to stay with them and fix this problem … but if they can't, the alternatives don't look so pretty."

Sinclair said the unions reiterated their demands to Nixon in person on Wednesday, asking that the bank stop using the temporary foreign workers program, stop outsourcing jobs to foreign countries, and agree to a transparent monitoring program.

Nixon has said that the company should have been "more sensitive" to workers affected by their outsourcing arrangements and is promising "comparable job opportunities" within the bank.