Banking hoursThe Korean Financial Industry Union recently said it wants to cut banking hours by one hour, moving the closing time to 3:30 p.m. from the current 4:30. The union confirmed the proposal would be included in this year’s collective negotiations with management.
“After banks close, employees often stay until after 8 p.m. to finish their work,” said the union in a press release, in which it argued that it is necessary to reduce the excessive workload. The union also contends that reducing banking hours would not cause serious problems as “the proportion of work [conducted between customers and employees at a bank’s branch office] has gradually fallen.”
In the face of mounting complaints, the union only said it would minimize customer inconvenience. It is hard to imagine how it will do this when customers already complain about the current hours.
Salaried employees, students and the self-employed have difficulty finding time to bank during the day. Although the union argues that the number of face-to-face visits to a bank’s branch office are down, customers often have to go to an office in person to take care of specific types of business.
Thus, endless requests have been made to banks to increase hours of operation and to open on Saturdays. But the union decided to move in the opposite direction. In 2002, banks were criticized for adopting a five-day workweek before other companies did so, and closing on Saturdays.
In the United States, banks normally open until 5 or 6 p.m. on weekdays. Many banks open on Saturday mornings. Don’t employees at those banks work longer because they have work remaining to do?
The union should not be acting like this, not to mention the fact that banks were rescued with tax money during the financial crisis and the employees are earning comparatively more money than workers in other industries.
Employees should refrain from thinking about their own benefit while working in an industry whose goal is to serve customers. Even public offices stay open until 9 p.m. on Thursdays.
The union should withdraw the proposal. Management should also reject the union’s demand. Now is the time for bank presidents, who are always raising their voices in support of “customer satisfaction,” to do something for customers. They have to consider extending working hours and opening main regional offices on Saturday, if they really have the customers’ best interests at heart.