Employees of HSBC bank who belong to the sub-direction of Xochimilco, which groups branches in Milpa Alta, Tláhuac and Xochimilco, report a lack of support from the company, which hides them from the cases that have tested positive for COVID-19, and that in some branches health measures are not respected.
One bank worker (who asked to protect his identity for fear of reprisals) said that at least three employees have tested positive for COVID-19 in the area, however, staff are not informed of cases, so there has been a lot of uncertainty about the risk they face and whether there could be more contagions.
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«Who got infected tipped us off by chat, ‘hey, you know what? I positively testED COVID, go get tested,’ and in branches we don’t officially report anything, we have to beg to be asked to be informed when they’re in our health, I don’t know why they want to hide that someone is sick,» he says.
Another employee, who also asked to protect his identity, said that although the person who tested positive was quarantined, normal work continued for a few days.
It was until the officers were pressured to confirm the case that the branch was closed and all bank staff were isolated for 14 days and the area was sanitized.
The bank denied that there is a lack of support with its workers and ensures that the necessary actions are taken to protect all its employees and clients.
«Of the two inspections that the authority has carried out to verify working conditions, no serious fine or finding has been presented,» HSBC Mexico and Latin America’s external communication area replied.
On the accusation that information about positive COVID-19 cases was concealed and that a branch was slow to close, he replied that an investigation is being found in who is the assistant manager and the specific case.
«When we have a confirmed case we do a process of cleaning, disinfection and deep sanitization,» the company says.
Tests but not for everyone
Some workers who were in direct contact with the positive case were asked to take the test, some were able to do it, but others were not.
Staff who are unionized only had the option to pay for the test at a private hospital or go to IMSS.
Some preferred telephone counseling through the avenues the government has given and by not presenting symptoms, the test was not done.
Another part of the workforce, which does have senior medical expenses insurance in private hospitals, because they have a different contract, was able to take the test immediately.
«The bank is putting us at risk, if there is a case of COVID I think they have an obligation to inform you, so we ask for your support to test us in a private hospital, because also going to IMSS is time consuming and exposed,» said one of the unionized workers.
Faced with this situation, several workers explained the situation to the union. Animal Politic has a copy of that report where they make it clear that positive cases are hidden and that branches continue to open even though there is a confirmed case and it is exposed to both staff and users.
«A windowmate has already tested positive for COVID-19 and the sub-direction even decided to reopen the branch as they estimate production numbers are low,» reads in his complaint.
But HSBC noted that in suspicious cases protocols for staff are immediately followed and provide forty preventive when there is close contact with someone infected (confirmed), or there is close contact with someone suspected of coronavirus.
The bank also said that if any employee tests positive for COVID-19, it has a major medical expense policy or medical service.
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Another thing that alarms them is that there is staff turnover, as they send healthy employees to branches where there are contagions and often return to their home bank, which they believe exposes them and can cause more contagion.
«It’s worth a person’s life more than opening a credit card a day. We understand that the bank must sell, that’s where our salary comes from and we understand it, but we don’t want this uncertainty, we also want your support,» says one of the four employees interviewed.
«Workers often don’t say anything out of fear,» they agreed.
The report they wrote to the union was sent with a copy to the Ministry of Health requesting advice from their superiors on the subject and to raise awareness of how sensitive the disease is and appropriate health measures are taken.
«Other subaddresses were already taking measurements of healthy distance two or three weeks before us, but here in Xochimilco everything was late, the matter has been greatly minimized, for several days we were buying mouth covers, finally we were given gel and mouth cover and half complied with the general measures but already very late».
«The managers bombard you with messages that we are with you this difficult season because of the pandemic, we will support them and we will not leave them alone, thank us for our work and tell us to make it feel like it, but what good is it for me to thank me if you are not taking care of me as you should or do not support me when there is risk,» says one of the workers interviewed.
They emphasize that they do not see the same conditions between subaddresses, so they think the problem is focused on the branches of Milpa Alta, Tláhuac and Xochimilco.
«If we communicate to the union we do it externally because if the deputy principal finds out she’s upset with us, she threatened us with sanctions, but we’re within our right to state what’s wrong with us,» they say.
HSBC measures that are not met
On 12 April, the banking institution reported in a statement that for the health contingency operational adjustments were made to protect its employees and facilitate the attention of customers and users under strict measures of healthy distance.
He detailed that only 75% of HSBC Mexico’s branches would remain open and that the branches that were closed are those located within commercial places and those with the least staff in operation.
The bank disclosed that among the measures taken in the open branches is that there be cleaning and sanitization, and the use of antibacterial gel for customers and collaborators.
Another measure was limited access from 10 to 20 people, depending on the size of the branch, could drop from 10 to 5 people to avoid concentrations, and for customers to keep healthy distances of 1.5 and 2 meters in and out of branches.
The indication was that branches would work with 60% of bank employees and would participate in a scheduled rotation scheme.
However, some employees belonging to the Xochimilco sub-address said that these measures are not met at all branches.
«We were reduced by an hour in working hours, but we all continue to work, we were supposed to rest one week and the rest the next, so as not to be all in a small branch, but they didn’t, we’re all there.»
One worker details that even though one of the banks closed the public for a positive case of coronavirus, it was still open discreetly to name things with customers.
«Right now where I am we’re six on the desk, only three of us would have to be attending and the other three making phone calls or being sent to another branch closed to make the calls, according to protocol, but we’re all here,» he says.
«They tell us, as long as there is no health we can continue to tend with head coverings and gloves, so they have us. Sometimes there is someone at the door telling customers not to overwhelm the branch, but other days no one watches, people come in and stay inside exceeding the allowed capacity.»
A worker expresses that there are no crystals in the windows in his branch and that even the same customers tell them that even if they put some plastics or acetates so that they are not so exposed.
Animal Political called the HSBC union to learn about the allegations and the measures that would be taken. They confirmed that because of the contingency they have received many complaints from the employees, but that because of the situation and the workload they could not give statements at this time.
Employees called on the banking institution, in particular, to pay attention to the sub-direction of Xochimilco, where these cases have been reported, calling for the issue of coronavirus not to be minimised, that the measures implemented by the bank in general be actually taken, unionized workers are supported by COVID tests, and positive cases not hidden.
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