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1. The Sarawak Bank Employees Union (SBEU) is a national Union registered under the Trade Unions Act 1959 on 22/9/1966. To date it represents 3000 employees in 26 Commercial Banks and 16 Finance Companies operating in Sarawak. The majority of the members comprise of non-clericals, clericals and special grade clerks who perform duties ranging from messengers to clerical to supervisory in nature.
2. Under Rule 3 of our Constitution, membership at the Union shall be open to all employees excluding managerial staff, confidential staff and security guards of any commercial bank or any finance company in Sarawak licensed under Section 6(4) of the Banking and Financial Institution Act 1989 whose place of work is in the State of Sarawak.
3. This is a much wider scope than the National Union of Bank Employees (NUBE), which only represent non-clerical, clerical and special grade clerk in Commercial Banks and Finance Companies that are wholly owned subsidiary of commercial banks in Peninsular Malaysia.

ABOM or Association of Bank Officers in Malaysia is a National Trade Union catering for officers. It was registered on 14/12/1978. The ABOM caters for 2 categories of officers viz.:

  • Class II Officer and (O.2.'s)
  • Internal Officer (I.O.'s)
5. It must be noted that ABOM was formed after officers split from NUBE. Thus the O.2.'S and I.O.'s were once covered by NUBE.
6. There are 26 Commercial Banks and about 20 Finance Companies operating in Sarawak, spread over more 200 Branches throughout the State. It is estimated that there are about 500 officers in the said categories.
7. In Peninsular Malaysia, the I.O.'s and O.2's of the Banks are represented by ABOM and covered by the ABOM/MCBA Collective Agreement. The job functions of these officers in Peninsular Malaysia are broadly similar to those in Sarawak. (Please note that ABOM's scope is limited to Peninsular Malaysia)
8. In 1997 and 1998 SBEU recruited more than 95 % of these categories of Officers in the following Banks:
EON Bank Bhd, Bank Utama Malaysia Bhd, Hong Leong Bank Bhd, Oriental Bank Bhd, RHB Bank and Kewangan Utama Bhd and Delta Finance Bhd
9. SBEU then submitted claims for recognition claim for recognition to the management under S (9)(2) of the Industrial Relations Act 1967 (the Act). The management rejected the claims.
10. The issue is therefore whether these officers falls outside the scope of SBEU's representation by virtue of the exclusions under s9 (1). i.e. whether these officers can be considered as under the security, confidential, executive or managerial categories.

Award 54/81 between ABOM & MCBA defines these employees as (pp138 MLLR 1981):-

"(c) Class II officers are appointed either by promotion from the banks' clerical grades or by direct appointment of holders of the Diploma in banking or Diploma in Business Studies.
"(d) Internal officers are recruited from the ranks of the Banks' clerical grade by way of promotion. Some are first promoted to this grade and subsequently promoted to Class II officers. ALL, however, are considered superior to the Banks' Special Grade Clerk ......"


The Honourable Mr. Justice Harun (as he then was), stated in ICA 54/81 (pp138 MLLR 198) that

"(e) It is also common ground that both grades (i.e. Class II and I.O's) occupy the intermediate position in the banking hierarchy between the clerical grades and the managerial grade.....They belong to the Intermediate or Supervisory group, above the clerical but below the Managerial ..."

13. It is therefore now established that I.O's & O.2.'s as per the ABOM agreement are in the supervisory category.

Two questions needs to be answered

  • Whether these said officers are in the supervisory category as defined under the ABOM Collective Agreement? 
  • If they are, do they fall under executive or managerial categories under s (9)(1) of the Act?

Titles and Job Functions

In deciding on the scope, the titles are not important but the job functions are. As stated by CP Mills (Industrial Disputes Law in Malaysia 2nd Ed. pp. 35): -
"Whether persons who are designated occupy managerial positions is a question of fact in each case, the criteria on being whether they exercise effective powers.... and it will not be assumed that they have such powers unless this is shown by evidence".

16. Supervisory duties is further defined by the Industrial Courts (as quoted in National Union of Employees in Companies Manufacturing Rubber Products V. Wilkinson Rubber Process Co. Ltd. ICA 6/64 in CP Mills, Industrial Disputes Law in Malaysia 2Ed. pp34).
Supervisory duties "meant" duties of the individual having authority in the interests of the employer to engage, transfer, suspend, recall, promote, discharge, assign, reward or discipline other employees, or responsibility to direct them, to adjust their grievances or effectively recommend such action, the exercise of such authority not being merely routine or of a clerical nature but the use of independent judgment."
17. 'Executive' is defined as 'one who holds a position of administrative or managerial responsibility in a business or other organisation' by the Webster's 3rd New International Dictionary-Unabridge edition and as "a person in a business Organisation who has the power to act on important decisions' by the Times Chambers Dictionary. 1989 edition i.e. not day to day decisions.


The job duties of officers would vary from bank to bank but generally they are as follows:

  • authorising transactions up to pre defined limits
  • check reports and posting by clerks
  • attend to customer complaints and inquiries
  • check typing and issuing of drafts/telegraphic transfers
  • check opening of new accounts
  • check and initial bank vouchers up to designated limits
  • cancellation of cheques and verification of signature
  • monitor and supervisor subordinates in undertaking daily duties for even distribution of workload
  • perform checks of daily balancing and branch balancing
  • countersign bankers cheques up to authorised limits
  • dual control of ATM
  • handle clearing operations at Bank Negara
  • process loan/credit applications
  • marketing and sales functions
19. Clearly, most of them do not have the power, discretion nor the authority to engage, transfer, suspend, recall, promote, discharge, assign, reward or discipline other employees (see no 15). The I.Os do not even have authority to approved overtime and other claims. They therefore cannot be supervisory staff, much less executive staff! Even if the 0.2s are supervisory staff, do they fall under the executive category under the Act?
20. It must also be noted that some other Banks and employers in Sarawak have readily accepted that supervisory staffs are non-executives as reflected in their organisational structure.

In Airline Workers Union Sarawak (AWUS), a national Union membership eligibility is the same as for SBEU. Yet Malaysia Airline recognised the Union to represent its supervisory staff and to include these categories in the scope of the Collective Agreement.

They include:

  • Ticketing Supervisor & Reservation Supervisor
  • Cargo Supervisor & Traffic Supervisor

Similarly Kesatuan Kakitangan Petroliam Nasional Sarawak is recognised by Petroliam Nasional Bhd to represent its supervisory staff. -Appendix 2.

They include:

  • Offshore Supervisor
  • Foreman
  • Station Supervisor
  • Shift Leader
  • Depot supervisor


As can be seen in Appendix 3 - The job description of the reservation/ticketing supervisors of Malaysia Airline is much higher that the job duties of the I.O.'s & O.2.'s of EON Bank, yet they are within the scope of AWUS representation and recognition.
Their duties include:

  • prepare and plan shift and leave roster for staff
  • Ensure the availability of manpower in the various units on daily basis and rearranging the redeployment of staff when required.
  • monitor subordinates in undertaking daily duties 
  • investigate to recover short collections on tickets and cash collections
  • authorise overtime and meal allowance claims by subordinates staff- 
  • provides supervision and monitors discipline of subordinate staff
  • provides in house training for staff

Hongkong Bank Malaysia Bhd - Customer Services Coordinators (CSO-CSR - Appendix 4)

In Hongkong Bank CSO and CSR are covered within the scope of SBEU representation and the SBEU/SCBA Collective Agreement and their job duties are as follows:

  • supervise and monitor tellers workload to ensure even distribution of work
  • check and validate clearing/transfer and cash cheques within authorised limits
  • perform surprise random detail count of tellers cash boxes
  • perform daily checks of balancing of clearing cheque and cheque collection control and balancing
  • override/authorise transactions within designated authority and value
  • checking and control of alarm systems
  • control of cheque books issued
  • approve opening and closing of accounts
  • dual control/ of ATM

Standard Chartered Bank - Special Grade Clerks 

In Standard Chartered Bank, the Service Leader falls under the Special Grade Clerk in the SCBA/SBEU Collective Agreement and is under SBEU representation. Their job duties include, amongst others:

  • Every service leader will lead a team of service assistant and will be directly responsible to the customer Relationship Manager
  • To guide and train clerical staff to discharge their responsibilities more efficiently, ensuring team members are multi skilled.
  • to recommend solutions to problems encountered 
  • checking and collating of reports
  • To assist the Customer Relationship Manager in the counter service planning exercise and daily allocation of clerical duties.
  • to approve and authorise transactions within delegated authority and limits
  • Approving cash payments up to RM30, 000 and signing of bankers cheques and drafts up to RM150, 000.
  • authorise all inputs of data/limits and repair of data
  • handle clearing operations at Bank Negara
  • cancellation of cheques/verification of signature
  • authorise debits and credits entries
  • undertake dual control functions
  • attend and resolve customers complaints/inquiries
  • controls of securing documents for safe keeping

MAYBANK- Special Grade Clerks

In Mayban the unionised Special Grade Clerks performs these functions:

  • Receiving and paying of cash items within designated authority
  • signing of internal vouchers
  • checking and verifying all activities of tellers
  • dual control of ATM
  • control and release of checkbooks, PIN, bank drafts, bankers cheques etc. 


The transaction value and authorised limits of most I.O.'s and O.2.'s are much lower than Special Grade clerks are and non-executive officers of other Banks.



In EON Bank, the officers salary are less that the clerk.



If one analyses the job function/authority and responsibility of the unionised Special Grade Clerk, one would note that a lot of the functions of some Unionised employees in some banks are much superior to the said officers, especially the I.O's.

It is our view therefore that the Internal Officers in the above-mentioned banks do not perform work as laid out by ICA 54/81. In fact some of the functions are much inferior to clerical especially Special Grade Clerks in other banks. They would therefore falls under the scope of SBEU representation.

The rest (Class 2 Officers) perform supervisory duties that are non-executive in nature. Even if they do perform some supervisory work, they still fall within the scope of SBEU following the AWUS and KAPENAS example. They are not within the excluded categories under (9)(1)(a-d) of the Act.

Accordingly the Class 2 officers would also fall under the scope of SBEU representation.

SBEU has over the past 30 years worked closely with the Banks and Finance Companies in creating one of the most harmonious relations that have contributed to the growth and profitability of the Industry. We have worked closely to improve efficiency and productivity of Bank employees in Sarawak. We believe that we can achieve the same if we are accorded recognition to also represent the non-executive officers.

Further the ongoing mergers and structural changes in the bank would result in the overlapping of duties between the clericals and the non executive officers. By according recognition to represent all of them, the Banks would benefit in being able better manage the Human Resources needs of the bank in the next millennium.

The relationship between SBEU and the Banks will be further strengthened.

The very good response from the officers themselves indicates their willingness to be represented by SBEU.

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