The Canadian Bankers Association has asked Canadian Labour Congress to remove line "It's time to protect people instead of profits for the banks" from a rally poster. CLC president Ken Georgetti and NUPGE president James Clancy challenge banks on their record.
Ottawa (18 March 2009) - As activists in Hamilton and Belleville prepare to hit the streets on March 21st to demand federal government action to help those unemployed and hurting as a result of the economic crisis, Canada's banking association is concerned that they are being "bashed".
The Canadian Bankers Association (CBA) has taken exception to the line “It’s time to protect people instead of profits for the banks” that appears on the poster.
Nancy Hughes Anthony, president of the CBA, in a letter to Canadian Labour Congress (CLC) president Ken Georgetti says that it is "unfortunate that in encouraging people to come to a rally about jobs and other serious economic issues that are affecting many Canadians that the Canadian Labour Congress resorts to 'bank bashing.' "
Georgetti has responded by pointing out that Canada's banks, despite the Bank of Canada slashing interest rates and significant support from the federal government, have not moved to help consumers but instead have driven up costs. He writes that "the medicine of low interest rates is not getting through to the patient, the sick Canadian economy."
He further notes that "contrary to the signal from our Central Bank, members of your association are currently raising the rates charged on loans and lines of credit to Canadians, even those who are considered not to be bad credit risks."
"I most certainly agree with the many Canadians who believe that the recent action of Canadian banks in driving up interest rates and further restricting credit is a national scandal."
Banks have role to play but still operate as if it is business as usual
James Clancy, national president of the 340,000 member National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE), agrees with Georgetti.
“Economists and governments around the world are looking for ways to stimulate the economy. Meanwhile, Canada’s banks are restricting access to credit and charging usurious interest rates on credit cards.”
“I also want to point out that the banks are ignoring their 2007 commitment to Finance Minister Flaherty to address high fees charged by automated banking machines. Instead of relief they continue to nickel-and-dime us at every opportunity.”
Clancy recognizes that “the banks have a major role to play in dealing with this economic crisis. Unfortunately, it looks like they believe it is still business as usual – all take and very little give.”
The rallies in Hamilton and Belleville on the 21st are the first in what will be a series of cross-country actions to demand federal government action to improve the Employment Insurance, public pensions and to deal with high consumer interest rates.
The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 340,000 members. Our mission is to improve the lives of working families and to build a stronger Canada by ensuring our common wealth is used for the common good. NUPGE